Learning Curve | Education Supplement | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

“Small groups of aspiring adults who desire to keep their minds fresh and vigorous; who begin to learn by confronting pertinent situations; who dig down into the reservoirs of their secondary facts; who are led in the discussion by teachers who are also seekers after wisdom and not oracles: This constitutes the setting for adult education, the modern quest for life’s meaning.” —Eduard Lindeman

It was always the adults who sat at the front of the class in college and eagerly answered any question when called upon…or not called upon. They were never absent and made the best grades, you may not have thought about it as an 18-year-old freshman, but they were probably juggling a career and a family, but still managed to set the curve. As an adult, you now understand why they were there—whether it was for a career change, learning a language just for the hell of it, or to write the great American novel. There is a plethora of adult education classes available to enrich your life. You may have something that you’ve been interested to learn and put it on the back burner, or maybe life has become too mundane and a new hobby can aid in shaking up your routine. It’s likely that your evening class or weekend retreat will lead to unexpected interest, life long friendships, and newfound lifestyles. See what piques your interest.

Behind the Lens
Whether you’re out to hone your skills or are an amateur looking to learn the medium, The Center for Photography at Woodstock educates, informs, and inspires photographers of all ages. There is something to be said about a beautiful photo. We have them framed on our walls and tacked to the refrigerator. Photography is something that most of us do—whether it’s with our iPhones or our fancy digitals. A touching photo of a newborn baby, the memories from otherwise forgotten travels, or a distant sunset can all be captured from behind the lens. People travel from all over to take classes at the center, due to its reputation for education (not to mention, a beautiful setting for work) and focus for all levels of training from beginners to experts. Classes are typically held over two days and are capped at seven to fifteen students.

Sharpen Your Skills, Loosen Your Belt

With food TV now a phenomenon, kitchen skills have become glamorous. The Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI) in Manhattan has been teaching since 1977, when owner Annemarie Colbin founded the business out of her UWS apartment. She’s currently the CEO, has relocated to much larger digs in the Flatiron District, and has known alumni such as author Alex Jamieson of Super Size Me fame. NGI makes an effort to focus on health-supportive, whole-foods cuisine, with an emphasis on traditional unrefined ingredients. It offers cooking classes that range from basic prep skills to the occasional celeb-endorsed diets that are an actual way of living for many. In this kitchen, raw, macrobiotic, and gluten-free food is prepared to taste fresh and flavorful. A Friday night multi-course meal prepared by the culinary students has become popular, not only because of the savory cuisine, but because the prices and BYOB policy is hard to beat.

What’s all the racket?
There is something nostalgic about camp that instantly conjures up thoughts of carefree days and fresh air. As adults, roasting weenies and telling ghost stories over a campfire seems all too childish—but the simple thought of a signal-less Blackberry could be almost enough of blissful getaway. Total Tennis, a camp for adults, is an actual excuse to pack up the bags and head out into nature. You won’t be chanting kumbaya around a bonfire; the main lodge is more cozy than outdoorsy, with a library and fireplace. Two-day to one-week sessions in Saugerties are geared toward all levels—whether you’re the beginner looking to learn the game or the advanced player who’d like to fine-tune your backhand, their private and group coaching techniques help towards continued improvement. And the rustic 1920s resort is a far cry from your old sleeping bag.

Just Breathe
There is a growing group of niche travelers who are incredibly passionate about the sport of scuba diving. They, too, once took a class and were captivated by the activity that takes them under the water where other lifeforms thrive. These scuba enthusiasts spend most of their vacations traveling to locations all over the globe, only to go below sea level. The ocean floor remains a curiosity for most, because in order to breathe below the sea and experience this fascinating and serene life, you must become a certified diver. Dutchess Diving has made this possible, and fun, for Hudson Valley residents. Classes typically begin in a swimming pool and progress to open water. Dutchess Diving also conducts trips to the likes of Bonaire, Cayman Island, and other areas known for their spectacular underwater beauty.

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