Sunday, May 15, 2011

You’re Never Too Old to Learn Shoemaking

A class on historic gastronomy at the Brooklyn Brainery, which offers cheap, low-commitment classes on a variety of topics, like tying knots.

LEARNING should be a lifelong pursuit. But between the cost of tuition and dark memories of failure at the blackboard, formally committing to edification can be daunting.

Now a different approach is gaining traction in New York and beyond, one that should spare most of us that humiliating hike from the blackboard to our desks. The movement — sometimes called collaborative learning — is showcased by Web sites like (connecting “people who want to learn about a topic with those in their area who want to teach it”) and projects like Trade School, where, since last year, instructors have bartered courses for things like mixed CDs and blocks of cheddar cheese. The overarching principle: We’ve all got something to learn — and we’ve all got something to teach.

Squishy Circuits

In a zippy demo at TED U, AnnMarie Thomas shows how two different kinds of homemade play dough can be used to demonstrate electrical properties -- by lighting up LEDs, spinning motors, and turning little kids into circuit designers.