Monday morning question: of courses.

A local college sent us their course listings for the upcoming semester (I guess beginning in February?) and I browsed through it.

Lots of interesting stuff. I would love to have the free time to take a college class here and there, only this time it would be strictly interesting material and nothing having to do with fulfilling requirements or keeping my advisor happy. (Come to think of it, that was my last three years of college. My Freshman year was the nightmare.)

Back at the old house in Angeltown, when my Patient Husband was cleaning out some of the five tons of papers we’d stashed there, he handed me the entire contents of a three-ring binder (weighing about 400 pounds) and asked me to put it into the recycling bin. 

Because the separate sections were all stapled, I had to spend time removing staples before it went into the bin, and I saw it was the “textbook” for a course on the way war strategy had changed in conjunction with the changes in warfare technology. It’s not something I would ever have chosen to take in college, and it wouldn’t have worked well with a dual-major in English and Religion, but seeing the contents of the class, I realized it was fascinating.

I thought toward my guardian angel, “I hope there are tons of classes we can take in Heaven. Classes in every subject, and we can just enroll and learn things and study things like this for all eternity.”

I heard a reply: Some people would consider that Hell.

I laughed. But I know I’m not the only one because my father often tells me “When you stop learning, you start dying.”

Some of the happiest people I know are people who continue to take classes in new areas no matter how old they are. They just love learning for the sake of learning, even if it’s not “practical” and don’t view study as a necessary evil, like medicine that needs to be dosed out.

When the kids get older, my Patient Husband wants to re-learn how to play the cello. I would love to take classes in drawing, in music. I want to learn to drive a standard-shift car. I want to learn to play the violin for real.

Here’s your question, and answer in the comment box: if you could take any course whatsoever, if time and money weren’t a problem, what would it be? What would you like to learn about? And if you have a preference as to who would teach it, name that too.

Blogged responses:

Ten Past Midnight
An American in Holland
Walking In The Rain
The Betsy Ross Experience


  1. Capt Cardor

    I like to think of a subject and then start to read a series of books about it. I’m not so tolerant of teachers anymore.

    I guess I would really need a teacher for one subject I would like to study, Epic Poetry. I keep attempting to read Edmund Spenser’s “The Faerie Queen” or Torquato Tasso’s “Jerusalem Delivered” or Ludovico Ariosto’s “Orlando Furioso”, but I get lost in the unfamiliar images and references.

    Pretty obscure, I guess. LOL.

  2. Ivy

    Well, if it could be any teacher, I’d relearn knitting, from the ground up, at the feet of Elizabeth Zimmerman. When I find her in Heaven I’m going to ask her if I can hold her yarn for her, or maybe spin some yarn for her. To my knowledge, she didn’t spin and handspun wasn’t all that available in her day.

    Then I’d learn Torah from Rashi, and philosophy from Aristotle. The last would might have an added perk, as I might find Alexander as my classmate.

    I’m taking a ton of classes off and on, via the Teaching Company, so it’s hard to find a topic I don’t have access to already. Japanese History, perhaps? A really comprehensive class from the Ainu people all the way to the present. Egyptian Mythology, because I really need help redacting the contradictory legends (Set is the villain who saves the world from destruction every day–huh?)

    And, of course, I’d want to study Creative Writing under Jane Lebak, but I’ve been told she stopped offering classes a number of years ago. 😉

  3. Kate

    Mechanics of Poetry. I write poetry and read poetry, and it drives me crazy that I don’t have to vocabulary and the knowledge to be able to discuss why a poem works or not.

    I’d love to take a drafting class. Just to have some techniques (again, with the techniques) to be able to draw what I see in front of me. I don’t think I’ll ever be a gifted artist, but I think some things at least can be learned.

    I would take almost any class offered by one particular history professor I had in college. He had the way of drawing you into current scholarly discussions and debates and making you feel like you had something to contribute…he was one of those teachers that could take the densest student and lead them to make deeper discoveries. I always felt brilliant in his classes, even though he expected an incredible amount of reading and has high standards for written work….it was incredibly invigorating.

    I think also I’d like to take a class or two in car maintenance and mechanics, just ’cause it would be nice not to be so intimidated by it all!

    Oh, and personal finance/ small business accounting – this is practical, as both dh and I are dunces with money.

  4. philangelus

    Ivy, I’d have nothing to teach you in the creative writing realm.

    Cap’n, I took a course on The Faerie Queene. Good stuff!

    Kate, one of the courses offered here is a basic auto maintenance course. It’s hands-on and everything! I’d like to do that one too.

    Okay, so here’s my answer. If I could take ONE class and only one, I’d go back in time and take Biblical Hebrew taught by Gary Rendsburg. I made the decision in my final year of college not to take it because of the time/days it was offered. As I recall, it was offered at 8AM on Tuesday/Thursday, and my schedule that semester consisted of *only* Tuesday/Thursday classes, with me in class from 9:35AM to 4:30PM.

    I opted not to take it. That’s one of my regrets that’s stayed with me ever since. I would go back in time and take THAT class taught by THAT professor.

    And in a week or two, I hope to have a review of his “Book of Genesis” class posted here on the weblog. Because like Ivy, I too love Teaching Company courses.

  5. Meghan

    Oh it’s too good to pass up! I’m going to blog my response too!

  6. Dogzard

    I would choose to take an Irish Mythology class from one of my professors in college. The man was very quiet outside of class, but he was a showman in class. He’d shout and scream one moment, and then whisper the next. He had so much passion about what he was teaching! I took an Irish History class from him, and it was fantastic and almost awe-inspiring. Of course, there couldn’t be any tests, because I was so absorbed in what he was saying that I forgot to take notes, but I’m sure I could work around that…

  7. philangelus

    Dogzard, you could definitely audit the class. Then tests wouldn’t be an issue at all. Or take it pass/fail. This is, after all, my weblog and I make the rules around here, so I hereby decree you don’t have to take any tests unless you choose to. 😀

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  9. Maaawee

    I would study astronomy…….I have a general knowledge about it as in I can identify constellations as I lay in the grass looking at the summer sky. But I want to know more. Much more.

    I’d learn about archeology too. I love history but always wanted to know ‘what happened before then?’ and ‘why?’

    I’d learn more about biblical themes in art (I skated through this class in college and relied on my ability to read the latin banners) – what a waste– I want a do-over

  10. Cheryl

    Man, I have no idea. I was just talking to a friend of mine on Saturday – both of us would love to take some classes just to take/learn them.

    I think my list (sorry, I can’t just pick one!) would be topped by language classes – German first, followed by Japanese, Gaelic, Russian (not necessarily in that order). I already speak Spanish.

    Maybe some art history? I took one semester in college; it covered Renaissance through modern. I’d like to take the first half, ancient – Renaissance.

    Maybe some more history classes also – I took western civ and eastern civ, but some focused classes would be interesting – I’d love to spend more time on Medieval history, and another course on some part of Eastern history – not sure what, it’d depend on what was offered.

    I’m sure I could come up with more, LOL.

  11. wordgirl

    Easy call – Spanish immersion course. I had enough of it when I was young that I think I have a shot at learning it “for real.” It’s a beautiful, orderly language, and I live in a part of the country where it would come in very handy.

  12. Alicia

    Only one? That’s awful!

    Well, I think I would have to choose a photography course, preferably a course that covers everything from the basics up to expert wildlife and macro photography. I would take it with my grandfather. Before he died, my grandfather gave me his old Canon T70 camera and all of his lenses, the idea being that he would have time to teach m everything he knew. We always shared creative things together — I’d spend hours down in his art studio and wrote poems just for him. We never got a chance to study photography together and to this day that devastates me. I wanted to share another of his passions.

    Of course I can take a photography class now. In fact, I’m signed up to take one starting in a few weeks. It’s just that I’ll never get the instructor that I really want.

  13. scott

    It’s funny. I found some American History texts from high school last year thinking “why did I think this was so hard back then?”. From time to time, I look at them and they’re never dull.

    But I would truly love to re-learn the piano. But that’s not just re-learning…that’s time needed to practice,

  14. Kit

    Oy, that’s hard…but as a public school kid my whole life who never had room for religion let alone courses in it growing up, I’d have to say a good, solid course on the Bible, taught by a traditional yet accessible Catholic theologian – Scott Hahn-like, but not Scott Hahn.

  15. Camarynne

    More computer classes, particularly networking. That’s my weakest point, and I’d love to have more certifications.

  16. Patient Husband

    Wow — I didn’t realize you’d restricted it to one course only. That makes it tougher.

    One technical course that I would love to re-take would be the course on the Fast Fourier Transform, taught by Charlie Van Loan. I had to drop it one semester because I got ill and never got back to it.

    However, my job requires me to take technical training every year (how cool is that?) so if I ever had the chance to take courses for real, I’d be all about non-technical courses. I’d love to take a course in Old English, but probably I’d end up taking as many courses as I could on American History.

  17. Cricket

    For War Strategy, try A Brief History of Warfare, by Field Marshal Montgomery. Husband loved it enough to buy it. Costs $30 through $250 on abebooks.

    I find a good teacher helps you learn, and also trusts your interests. He fills in gaps when you’re ready, finds material that interests you, and, when necessary, throws in a bit of the stuff that doesn’t interest you but later will help you enjoy other things. Then he does something so you know you’ve learned it and feel awesome. Possibly a formal test, but also another assignment that just assumes you know the earlier stuff.

    Piano! Yes! But given how little I practise singing (every few days while walking home from school), I don’t think I’m ready just yet.

    I started singing lessons at 40, with birthday money from Mom. She doesn’t approve, but she wanted me to have some money I didn’t have to answer to anybody for, and this counts. Mom hasn’t studied for joy in years. She learns so she can make a good decision. She also enjoys documentaries, but I don’t think she follows up at the library. I never see non-fiction books by her bed. I don’t sing in front of her.

    Other things I’d love to learn: Storytelling with Dan Yashinsky. (Oh, wait — the local guild is organizing a half-day workshop as I type.)

    Native North American storytelling. They have asked that we let them tell their own stories, so I rarely hear them. There’s something about a storytelling season, and a trickster, and several creation stories, and …

    A good selection of stories from different cultures. Enough to get the references between stories within a culture, and see the parallels and differences between cultures. Same for classic literature.

    One course? That’s easy (or a cop-out). I’ll phrase it religiously: All that God made and did, and what we did with it.

  18. LauraLBW

    This is a good topic!

    I’ve thought about this for awhile. These sounded interesting to me:

    Intro. To Spanish, and then Conversational Spanish

    The same courses in German

    Spinning and Weaving


    Homeowner’s How-To Fix Anything That Breaks Down In The House
    (I don’t think that this course is availble)

    Drawing, Painting,


    Clogging (a type of dance)

  19. Wendy

    What an interesting question! I guess I would have to categorize:

    Finish my tailwheel endorsement
    Finish my complex aircraft endorsement
    Beginning aerobatics
    Instrument flight

    Introduction to oil, acrylic and watercolor painting, technique-driven

    Intermediate/advanced Japanese (after a refresher course to scrape the rust off) Just so long as it doesn’t involve long hours studying kanji.

    Intermediate Web design
    RoboHelp/Madcap Flare

    Household maintenance (how to make repairs without making things worse)

    School was wasted on me, unfortunately. At the time, I blamed myself for not knowing everything already (a common malady of the young and arrogant). I wound up butting heads with more than a few university art professors who also thought I should know everything already and should start making Great Things For Them to Tear Apart In Critique. I spent a lot of time daydreaming in classes that forced me to just sit and listen.

    I discovered I learn best when fully engaged, with a paintbrush, sculpture tools or set of controls in my hands, doing things at that very moment. I learned all my kanji on train station platforms, where knowing the difference between kaisoku and kakueki meant the difference between getting to work on time or watching my stop sail by. Unfortunately, the full immersion Japanese and aviation courses are prohibitively expensive these days, and I haven’t found an art techniques class that fits yet.

  20. philangelus

    Wendy, that’s like a thousand years of college right there. 🙂 I take it you’ll be my classmate in Heavenly University? I’m going to have my own carrel in the library.

  21. illya

    I would take courses in gardening, so that my garden would be an adventure in color throughout the summer.

  22. Cricket

    Wendy, can we send my daughter to those profs? She already knows everything. If she doesn’t know it, we don’t know it either. If this is age 7, I dread 14!

  23. The Sojourner

    Just the other day I remarked that Heaven is going to be the best Honors seminar ever, and one of my friends remarked that for me, Heaven *would* be an Honors seminar.

    If I could take any class–I would spend the rest of my life in the Honors program. Here, it’s a twice-weekly class on the Great Books, which students discuss amongst themselves. Taught by anybody–I love all my Honors professors (who are more like zookeepers than teachers) but if I had to pick I’d say the one I had first semester, dear Dr. S. Crusty old fellow who thinks people should learn for the sake of gaining knowledge, not taking tests. I love him.

  24. cathrl

    Reading Wendy’s answer made me remember how much I’d like to learn to fly. Of course, in Heaven, I’d have actual hand-eye co-ordination, right? So I wouldn’t be a complete and total liability?

    And can my dream instructor be a fictional person? 😀

    I’m also fascinated by languages. I’d love to take Russian up again (I only ever managed a year of it at school, and I can’t get much beyond the alphabet) and I’d love to know more about things like how they figured out Linear B and hieroglyphics.

    I don’t think it would much matter to me what the course was on, as long as it was taught by someone knowledgeable and enthusiastic. But I definitely want a physics course taught by Richard Feynman in there somewhere.

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