Learning Curve | Education Supplement | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
Pin It

Learning Curve 

Last Updated: 08/13/2013 3:56 pm

“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.

No Shushing Allowed
There’s more to your local library than free Internet access and the classic novels you swore you’d read. Each Mid Hudson Library is a gem of incredibly interesting and unique opportunities to broaden your horizons. Rebekka Smith Aldrich, the organization’s Coordinator of Member Information, tells me about her letterboxing class at the smaller branch of Livingston. (Do you even know what letterboxing is?) Aldrich explains: “Ten letterboxes are hidden around Livingston to help teach you the history of the area, similar to a scavenger hunt, except that you’re looking for the letterbox.” She happened to find one of them near a favorite dessert spot in town. At other branches, you’ll find activities like chess games, Knit and Noshes, hiking and culinary tours, fashion and home how-tos, along with a host of other impressive offerings.

Head of the Class
Did you know that you can learn to sail at your local college? You can also take a course that will teach you to manage your finances and take control of debt—but that sounds much less sexy. SUNY Ulster and SUNY Dutchess offer an extensive amount of interesting options for their Adult Continuing Education classes. Learn French or how to write a children’s book (or how to write a children’s book in French). Whether you’re exploring new career options or just want to take up a new hobby, the classes at SUNY are an affordable and educational way to expand your knowledge beyond the books.
www.sunydutchess.edu; www.sunyulster.edu

Like a Bee to Honey
There’s been a resurgence for the desire to learn the craft of beekeeping. Whether it’s the recent focus on eating locally—where honey bees are essential—or the interest in preserving the fragile bee population, this hobby is creating a buzz. HoneybeeLives offers in-depth workshops taught by Grai Rice, an organic bee keeper, and Chris Harp, an organic bee keeper and bee doctor, whose “goals are focused on the well-being of the colonies that he nurtures; and through teaching others he raises the awareness and caring of these amazing creatures.” Weekend workshops are taught by the pair for both beginners as well as established beekeepers. Grai says, “Classes range from 12-year-olds to former beekeepers, all of whom complete the workshop enamored with honeybees and with their sense of nature completely changed.”
An introductory lecture will be offered in November and weekend workshops start in January. www.honeybeelives.org

De-education in Woodstock
Mirabai of Woodstock stands like any beautiful Victorian house in the area, but the inside serves as a sanctuary and spiritual home to those of Woodstock. People come from many miles to seek knowledge and experience the classes, workshops, and products that are offered in the store by owners Jeff Cuiule and Audrey Cusson, the husband-and-wife team who left corporate America for the opportunity to take over the bookstore. They’ve since hosted hundreds of workshops that range from channeling (which Cuiule tells me is in high demand) to yogi gurus, shamans, psychics, and reiki circles, to give you an idea of what you might find on the monthly calendar. Cuiule says, “It’s all about getting out of your brain and into your heart.” Mirabai is also host to many guests at Above the Books, the beautifully renovated, two-bedroom apartment with a rain shower and meditation room for those traveling to the Woodstock area. It’s directly upstairs from the shop and perfect if you’re visiting for a workshop. And if you’re a skeptic when it comes to tarot cards or channeling a long-lost loved one, or are just not in touch with your spiritual side, you could ask Cuiule about how he lived and all that he’s seen since he’s opened his eyes a bit wider.

Step Out of the Box

Exercise is difficult enough to stay committed to and a boring exercise routine is why many of us fall off the workout wagon. Through belly dancing, you will broaden your horizons and possibly even step out of your comfort zone by taking a class that goes beyond the monotony of lunges and leg lifts. The Hudson Valley is fortunate enough to have more than one possibility in the area to learn this exotic form of Middle Eastern dance. You’ll start with a few isolated moves that give your abs a great workout and work your way up to complex combinations with finger symbols that give you less high-impact and more bragging rights. Despite the sensuality that’s associated with the dance, all ages find the class to be interesting and Sarah Bell’s studio often hosts mother-daughter classes.
www.bellydancewillow.com; www.dancingwithsarah.com

click to enlarge Chris Harp of HoneybeeLives teaches a variety of classes on beekeeping.
  • Chris Harp of HoneybeeLives teaches a variety of classes on beekeeping.
click to enlarge Michael Mazzeo demonstrates the wet plate collodion process at the Center for Photography at Woodstock.
  • Michael Mazzeo demonstrates the wet plate collodion process at the Center for Photography at Woodstock.
Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Hudson Valley Events

submit event
Teen Sound Circle @ Henry Hudson Riverfront Park

Teen Sound Circle

Wednesdays, 2:30-4:30 p.m. Continues through Aug. 17 — Are you feeling overwhelmed and anxious? Teen Sound Circle can help! This...
Flying Trapeze Workshops @ Safe Harbors Green

Flying Trapeze Workshops

July 24-Aug. 19, 12-8 p.m. — Flying Trapeze Workshops This summer, Newburgh is taking off! Safe Harbors of...

View all of today's events

Chronogram on Instagram

Latest in Education

It’s high time Chronogram made a newsletter about marijuana. Stay in the know with the latest on dispensary openings, industry news, cultivation tips, and more as we cover the emerging cannabis scene in New York and the Northeast. Welcome to High Society.


* indicates required