School of Life

I am one of those people who decided to choose a “practical” degree when it came time to pursue my post-secondary education. I graduated with a B.Comm and loathed most of my time spent in classes.

The only classes I seemed to enjoy were my electives – French, Astronomy vs. Astrology, Medieval History, Feminist Studies, Pricing & Distribution in Luxury Fashion Management, Politics & Film, and one really cool one called “Zap, Pow, Bang, Pop Lit”. I guess you could say that I graduated as quite a well-rounded individual.

Fast forward a few years, and after being at a desk job full-time, I knew I had to keep that well-roundedness…sharp.

It’s not that the jobs I’ve had have been boring – I’m not the type of person who can stay bored at work because I’m always looking for ways to improve or challenge myself. It’s more that I miss that variety of learning that I had access to. The world is so big, and life is long, and there’s a lot to know!

Fortunately, I’ve found many online courses, podcasts, TedX Talks, and YouTube lecture series that have helped me satisfy that need. I thought it might be interesting for you if I shared some of the options here on the blog, after I’ve tried them out myself. Calling this series “School of Life”:

Online Course – Coursera – The Science of Well-Being

I was first directed to this course when I read an article about it at work:

“PSYC 157, or “Laurie Santos’ happiness class” as it is affectionately known on Yale’s campus, teaches practical advice such as how to pick a meaningful career and how to separate satisfying pursuits from hollow ones. And now, an expanded version of the class, filmed in Santos’ own house, is available for free on Coursera as part of a seminar-style series on “the science of well-being.”

What a description! Needless to say, I signed up immediately. I learned a lot, I definitely felt happier (at least for awhile, I think I need to retake it every so often), and being “enrolled” in a course kept me organized.

I really, really loved the way each lecture was filmed – I felt like I was in the classroom with the other students. Coursera is a great tool because it actually sets out a syllabus, includes tests and assignments, and keeps “students” accountable with email reminders. There’s a difference between signing up for a course on Coursera vs. just watching a lecture series online.

With that being said, lecture series can also be very interesting…

YouTube Lecture Series – Let This Be a Lesson: Heroes, Heroines, and Narrative in Paintings at Yale

Some universities upload their courses via video lectures on YouTube. This is a little less vigorous than enrolling in an online course, because you can kind of tune in, pause, and restart whenever you want to.

I chose this particular course on paintings because I love knowing the history of what goes into a piece. It’s one thing to observe and enjoy a painting for its beauty, or the skill and mastery that went into creating it. It’s another thing entirely to have the small details revealed after learning what the painter was going through during that time in her/his life, what the political environment was, why the painting was even created in the first place.

If art history isn’t your thing, and you perhaps enjoyed my money post, you could tune into Missouri State’s Personal Finance (FIN 150) course. I personally haven’t taken this – I had to take personal finance during my undergrad, and the syllabus looks very similar. I may take it again as a refresher, after spending all my $$$ on my wedding 🙂

Podcast: Getting Curious With Jonathan Van Ness

First of all, anything the Queer Eye guys do will just make your life better. Period. And JVN’s podcast is no exception! Each week he sits down with a subject matter expert to learn about a topic that he’s curious about.

Episodes I learned from:

How Can We Be Less Rude To Bees? with Prof. James Nieh

What’s the difference between Sunni and Shia Muslims & why don’t they love each other? with Dr. James Gelvin, Professor of Islamic Studies

Podcast: Stuff You Should Know

A lot of people swear by this podcast – the hosts, Josh and Chuck, aim to “explain everything interesting about the world, one topic at a time”. I like tuning into their podcast because the variety is amazing, and they have both short and long episodes.

The Golden Age of Grave Robbing (One of my favourite podcast episodes ever!)

Short Stuff – Thread Count – only 13 min (I mean, this really is stuff you should know)

TED Talks and TED-Ed

TED Talks are awesome! I’ve used Amy Cuddy’s talk on body language to prepare for interviews, and Brené Brown’s talk on vulnerability to get through hard days.

TED-Ed is also an incredible resource that provides short videos on important topics.

Get learning:

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Orgasm by Mary Roach

A brief history of dogs by David Ian Howe

Why should you read Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”? by Iseult Gillespie

Inside the killer whale matriarchy by Darren Croft

Whew! That was a lot! Probably enough material to keep you busy for a couple of months 🙂 I’ll be sure to check in with new lessons every once in awhile. With a busy schedule at work and wedding planning, I’m sticking more with the podcasts and short Ted Talks. Although it’s always really satisfying to finish a lecture series or online course (especially if it’s from an Ivy League like Yale 🙂 ).

Thanks for reading! Xox

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