Informal ed

When you swap memorizing for learning, sparks fly and tuna rolls
By NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  August 4, 2010

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In college, there was Aeschylus. There was the Battle of Gettysburg, chiaroscuro, the second law of thermodynamics. In essays you argued about symbols of war and fertility in 1920s American literature. On exams you answered what makes up the satellite of schizophrenia symptoms. Maybe you lost your graphing calculator. Maybe you didn't spend much time in the library. Your formal education was one thing. What happens after: something else entirely.

Education continues, and it's not all frantic cramming and 2 am Cheetos binges to fuel you through the final section of your lab report. Formal education finished, now's the time to get informal, to eschew books for hooks, memorizing for learning, regurgitating for experiencing. Below, some examples of a few of the wilder options for education continuation in Boston.

A TASTE OF BLACKSMITHING: TWISTED HOOKS A dark forge. Iron glowing hot. The great clank of metal meeting metal. Sparks dancing around the smith. Iron and steel yielding, morphing into something strong and new. It's a vocation — and an art — that seems to exist in another time. You need not be Hephaestus to learn the fundamental parts of blacksmithing. A three-hour course at the Prospect Hill Forge offers the opportunity to learn forging, drawing-out, cutting, bending, and twisting iron. You'll use an anvil and a hammer, and the heat is incandescent.

August 18 | $60 | Boston Center for Adult Education | bcae.org

WHAT YOUR HANDWRITING CAN REVEAL ABOUT YOU Your printed letters stand pinched and small. Your cursive is looping and expansive. You scrawl like a serial killer. It seems an odd offering, a bit anachronistic now, in the age of email, when handwritten letters are a rarity, and even the note on the refrigerator has given way to a cell phone text. But there are secrets to be gleaned from penmanship. A person's poise and imagination, ability to take criticism, and interactive style are all embedded in the handwriting, or so the CCAE tells us.

September 8 | $35 | Cambridge Center for Adult Education | ccae.org

PHANTOM OR FAKE: GHOST HUNTING AND PARANORMAL THEORY Is the chill you feel walking up the stairs some fluke temperature anomaly, or is it something else? Perhaps you sometimes sense a lurking, a force or figure that reveals itself in shadowy ways. Is it a ghost? An apparition? How do you know? Do spirits, malevolent or otherwise, walk among us? How can we be better at finding them? In this course, you'll learn how to hunt the haunts.

October 15 | $25 | Boston Center for Adult Education | bcae.org

VECTOR SPACE METHODS FOR DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS This class serves as a simple review for most of us. It's for folks who want to do a little brushing up on their orthogonal polynomials, work through some eigenvalue problems, and dust up on the old existence and uniqueness theorems. It's been a while since Sturm-Lioville systems crossed your mind? Feeling that itch to explore the wave equation in various coordinate systems? We've all been there. When the theory of inner product spaces beckons, this is the class to answer the call.

Spring term | $925 | Harvard Extension School | extension.harvard.edu

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