| Posted in:Family, Writing

Lecture Hall Yearning for learning

I miss school. The learning part mostly, but the thermos of lemonade and Wagon Wheels were pretty cool too.

I’ve missed it for a while, but I knew things were serious when I started reading my daughter’s high school Geography textbook and bribed her into a “chat” about igneous rock formations and soil erosion. I was halfway through making a set of flash cards for conjugating my son’s grade four level French verbs when the kids staged an intervention and told me enough was enough. They’re smart kids and for the most part they get things on their own. As it is they rarely need my help with homework and my absconding with their textbooks is one of the only ways I can get my hands on “real” school materials.

More university  courses would be lovely, and I could go back to take a course for kicks, but it’s too expensive a hobby for now. I’ve tried book clubs for literary discussion, but almost no one wants to make flow charts about overlapping Gothic themes in contemporary literature and my “Come dressed like your favourite ‘Satanic Verses’ character” idea was shot down in flames, almost literally.

I just want to know more stuff! Knowing stuff is all I have! I love knowing stuff because stuff is super interesting and you never know when you’re going to need stuff. I am an information hoarder, where instead of cat fur and empty tuna cans, I want to know what comprised the basis of an ancient Roman’s diet and why does every episode of Frasier resemble a Shakespearean comedy and how the feudal system literally changed the landscape and what the hell does HTML stand for? These are some of the questions that run on loop in my head almost constantly, and as soon as one question is answered another takes its place. Reading is great and I do a lot of that, but there’s something very appealing – intimate even – that comes from listening to someone lecture on a topic they’re passionate about. One of my favourite classes in University was  “Rural Sociology” seminar. I took it because it fulfilled a requirement and honestly I had no idea what the syllabus would include. It turned out to be far and away one of the more fascinating courses I took because although at first glance the learning material looked dry – forestry, fishing, and farming practices in Canada – the Professor was so passionate about the material that when I scanned the room at the bored teenage faces listening, I wanted to tie all of their shoelaces together.

Apparently there are some intriguing and informative University lectures available on iTunes and through mail-order catalogs and I’ve also been thinking of doing a “Documentary a Day” self-challenge. This morning I caught the tail end of one on motorcycle gang culture in Winnipeg and it was giddy-with-the-learnin’-bug-goosebumps awesome. If you’ve seen a good documentary or read an interesting non-fiction book lately – no matter how obscure – I’d love to hear about it.

(Fires up the popcorn machine.)

*image courtesy of WikiCommons

  • http://addalittlepretty.com/ Laurie M. Rauch

    HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. :)

    I also like to take classes for fun – I took a class because I was curious and next thing you know, I’m changing careers and hanging out a shingle as a web developer… and there’s still a pile of classes I want to take to expand my skills even more.

    I’m the exact opposite of an auditory learner, so the iTunes classes won’t work for me, but I’ve heard good things about the options (also the TED lectures are supposed to be awesome). If you’re looking for technical knowledge, Lynda.com has a lot of good tutorials…

    • Jeni M

      Thanks, Laurie! I will definitely check out Lynda.com and I forget all about TED talks!

      (And thanks for the HTML lingo clarification. I thought it was “Hard To Master, Loser.”) ;)

      • http://addalittlepretty.com/ Laurie M. Rauch

        LOL. I love that… I may just steal that for the next time I teach HTML. :)
        If you’re looking for something local, Ladies Learning Code has a great one-day session that teaches HTML/CSS (or a bunch of other things). I’ve mentored for a few of their classes and it’s a very stress-free and fun environment…

  • Javamom

    I get like that in September. Doesn’t help that I live next door to a College. Anyway, what are you complaining about? The big fat internet is waiting for you! (Or go on some homeschooling blogs, they’re awesome for this kind of thing too).

    • Jeni M

      I’d probably just sit in on classes if I lived that close! I never thought about the blogs; that’s a great idea.

  • Lianne Mellor

    If you haven’t read Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, try that; it is fascinating. I don’t usually choose to read non-fiction, but that book was absolutely worth it. I’m currently reading Ascent of Humanity by Charles Eisenstein which is also incredibly interesting and fortunately is also available to read free online on his website.

    • Jeni M

      Adding to my list for the library this weekend.

  • http://firsthomedreams.blogspot.com Ashley

    Have you ever checked out MOOCs available through something like Coursera or Khan Academy?

    • Jeni M

      I haven’t yet, but I absolutely will! Thank you.

  • http://myunwrittenlife.com/ Brandy

    You sound a lot like me. I crave learning. I miss being in an actual classroom. I even took a course just because once. Wrote this last year about how I miss school. http://myunwrittenlife.com/back-school/

  • Kathy Perantie

    I totally get this. Before I had a kid I used to take the “Informal Courses” at the local university, but it is so much harder to plan with a kid. Since then I’ve gotten my fix periodically with:

    itunes U

    - Check out Astrophysics from Yale University with Charles Bailyn. He is a GREAT speaker and really makes it make sense. I listened to them in the car, but I think there might be video versions as well. https://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/astrophysics-frontiers-controversies/id341651595?mt=10

    - The University of Oklahoma has a couple of series on the Constitution that are really good. https://itunes.apple.com/us/course/freedom-101-introduction-to/id570801351

    youtube

    - The Brain Scoop: host Emily Graslie started off working in a small museum in Montana and doing videos about their collection, dissecting animal specimens that came in and other general science stuff. It eventually got her noticed by the Field Museum and now she does similar shows using their massive collections.

    - SciShow – science videos by Hank Green of vlog brothers

    - Crash Course – videos on tons of different topics (history, science, literature, philosophy) examples include videos on Jane Eyre, The Agricultural Revolution, Islam, etc. By Hank Green of vlog brothers.

    Others

    http://www.itsokaytobesmart.com/ – tumblr with a ton of great links to science on the internet, plus weekly videos on science topics
    http://www.brainpickings.org/ – usually she features books on science, or ones by or about great artists discussing how they create and their philosphies, or ones with gorgeous graphic design. I usually end up putting about 1/3 of them on my library list.
    thekidshouldseethis.com is a great resource for cool videos on every topic under the sun

    Books
    The Devil in the White City, Thunderstruck – Erik Larson
    Krakatoa, The Crack in the Edge of the World, The Professor and the Madman – Simon Winchester
    Willpower – Roy Baumeister
    Assassination Vacation – Sarah Vowell
    A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson

    There is SO MUCH out there. Enjoy!

  • http://www.temperedwithkindness.com/ SLFarnam

    Netflix has a lot of awesome if you know what you are after. Lately we can’t get enough of Neil deGrasse Tyson. “Cosmos” (on Fox/Global) is amazing and so is “The Inexplicable Universe”. He is a wonderful teacher!

  • http://www.temperedwithkindness.com/ SLFarnam

    I have been thinking about you (and this post)! Check out @TheGreatCourses on Twitter and online. I’m not sure what’s free, but sometimes they go to Netflix (like the Inexplicable Universe) – so yay!

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