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Self-ed for Ester: help with ideas!


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I feel like I lack enough intellectual stimulation in the recent years. :001_huh:

 

It is NOT that I do not read, do not discuss, do not write or review, do not have some adult interaction regarding ex-professional or other matters which interest me - but somehow all of that has become... I do not know, a routine of a kind. It has really been a WHILE since I have systematically worked on something genuinely new, explored a new field, learned a new language, or in fact done anything new.

 

On the other hand, in addition to the typical motherly duties and other practical life matters, I spend a lot of time online. So obviously, the "time" IS there, it is just that I employ it for other pursuits. Which is perfectly legitimate and fine, but maybe I would like to switch a focus for a while.

 

Now the question is, what could I study? I am undecided. :lol: I want to have a selfish little interest, a hobby, something FOR ME, not the kids, and something NOT professional, but still intellectual. So, nothing classical, nothing literary, nothing cultural-theoretical - I would like a change. :D I veto science (since, when I asked DD about it, she brought me one of her horrid biochem texts written in a foreign language full of scary concepts, and that reminded me just how far away I want to stay from it), anything else is welcome.

 

Any good books? Fields of study? Something I missed in general humanities? Anything you read or studied and found challenging, yet accessible and rewarding?

 

I have no idea how much time I would devote to this, a few hours a week I guess, but I would still like that feeling that I am working on something, exploring something, etc. Not just one unrelated book after another, as it is now.

 

Thank you in advance.

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Since you already know many languages, learning another language would probably not fit your bill, would it?

What about music?

You could study an instrument, or music history, or music theory.

Art? Again, either learning an art technique, or art history.

Any areas in history you are not familiar with?

 

For starters, you could browse a Teaching Company catalogue and see if something strikes you as interesting; you could use this as a point of departure.

It is a very lovely problem to have :)

 

I study French. Spent last year learning about Ancient Greece (Homeric epics, Greek tragedy). This year plenty of Medieval history. Currently listening to lectures on music history (I have been a life long musician, but never took a systematic course.)

ETA: before I moved to this resourceless town, I took dancing lessons and became actually quite good at Argentine Tango. Maybe that would be something for you?

 

Btw, there is plenty of stuff to learn about science *phenomenologically* without resorting to a mathematical treatment.

Edited by regentrude
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my answer is along the lines of what regentrude said especially since one of those Teaching Company catalogues showed up in my mail today. :)

 

I'd look into music/art route.

 

I was well pleased with learning dance fitness. I was surprised at the brain power involved with getting the moves right and coordinating my body. good results. definitely new to me. provided fun, brain power (you'd be surprised on that), exercise. fit my schedule.

 

Is there an area of health that you want to research and learn more?

 

My mother in law recently studied horticulture and architecture. What about drafting?

 

 

-crystal

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What about a house project? Anything from painting the walls of a room to creating a beautiful space in a cozy corner. Change something in your immediate vicinity and challenge yourself to do something!

I think that would be fun!

Ps. I completely enjoy reading your posts!

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I love being able to create with my hands. So in that line, how about trying something with clay or ceramics or glass or beading? Wire sculpture?

 

ETA: Oops, I see you still want something intellectual. Psychology perhaps?

Edited by quark
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What about painting (start by learning how to draw, if you don't know already)? Even learning to draw suddenly made me look at thousands of years of artwork differently lol. Great fun! And it can be done a little at a time, picked up and put down, and studied on your own. The same with painting. Watercolours are nice, inexpensive to try, but have lots of scope. I have a friend who keeps saying that the water-mixable (silly term) oil paints are great. You use them like the traditional oil paints but you don't have to use turpentine with them because they are thinned with water instead. They dry like oils. They don't dry fast the way acrylics do. If you want a real challenge, you could try oriental brush painting or caligraphy.

 

And/or doing classical guitar? Or recorder? Are there recorder groups in Italy lol? There are here. Recorder is interesting because music has been written for it for ages now, it is easy to learn, easy to learn to sightread (something rewarding in itself and actually pretty necessary if you want to play in a group like the one I belong to), and it is easy to play in parts with other people.

 

Or origami? That can be a quick thing or a lifetime interest, depending on what you do with it.

 

Nan

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While you vetoed science, how about natural science via observation and narratives? Birding is a popular hobby. Or how about studying mushrooms?

 

As one who sews and knits, I am also interested in textiles and the cultural history of "women's work". Is there something you enjoy doing that you can take to a new level? For example, have you thought about book making and typography? There is a fascinating history there as well as a potentially enjoyable craft.

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I feel like I lack enough intellectual stimulation in the recent years. :001_huh:

 

It is NOT that I do not read, do not discuss, do not write or review, do not have some adult interaction regarding ex-professional or other matters which interest me - but somehow all of that has become... I do not know, a routine of a kind. It has really been a WHILE since I have systematically worked on something genuinely new, explored a new field, learned a new language, or in fact done anything new.

 

On the other hand, in addition to the typical motherly duties and other practical life matters, I spend a lot of time online. So obviously, the "time" IS there, it is just that I employ it for other pursuits. Which is perfectly legitimate and fine, but maybe I would like to switch a focus for a while.

 

Now the question is, what could I study? I am undecided. :lol: I want to have a selfish little interest, a hobby, something FOR ME, not the kids, and something NOT professional, but still intellectual. So, nothing classical, nothing literary, nothing cultural-theoretical - I would like a change. :D I veto science (since, when I asked DD about it, she brought me one of her horrid biochem texts written in a foreign language full of scary concepts, and that reminded me just how far away I want to stay from it), anything else is welcome.

 

Any good books? Fields of study? Something I missed in general humanities? Anything you read or studied and found challenging, yet accessible and rewarding?

 

I have no idea how much time I would devote to this, a few hours a week I guess, but I would still like that feeling that I am working on something, exploring something, etc. Not just one unrelated book after another, as it is now.

 

Thank you in advance.

 

Nature study? I realized a few years ago just how few plants in my vicinity I could identify. The Handbook of Nature Study blog (hosted by a WTM mom in fact) has some good jumping off challenges. I like the idea of being able to identify all of the plants in my neighborhood (of course this would be easier if my neighborhood didn't keep changing continents every few years).

 

I'm sort of exploring a similar question myself. I went to my 20th college reunion a few months back. Made me address my own mortality and the fact that I only have a few decades to play around with knowledge. So I need to decide what I want to know when I grow up and get to the task of learning that.

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How about Math. How are your math skills? Take a look at the material at Art of Problem Solving - you don't have to just do Alg., Geom, Calculus. How about Number Theory or Counting and Probability. A set theory class might be interesting. You seem to be very humanities weighted, so math might stretch you a bit. If you don't want to go to far, then maybe start with Euclid if you haven't already been there. If you have, there are other classical mathematicians to read and grapple with.

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I vote for art and art history. Or music. I'm really enjoying art history now and could see that it would be v. interesting to make art of any kind. Painting might be especially fun and fulfilling. Music like piano would be a dream come true for me. The thing about these 2 are you can be engaged in them on many levels. They can take as much or as little time as you have. They both present lots of puzzles to wrap your brain around.

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I've been eyeing this course from The Great Courses:

 

Understanding the World's Greatest Structures: Science and Innovation from Antiquity to Modernity

 

I think it would be terrific because it seems to combine some aspects of history, math, architecture, and art all in one course. The reviews are all terrific, too.

 

Brenda

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This thread makes me happy. I don't know anyone IRL who likes to study.

 

I'm working my way through calculus again. It will be useful when my ds gets to that level, but I'm mostly doing it for my own enjoyment.

 

I was well pleased with learning dance fitness. I was surprised at the brain power involved with getting the moves right and coordinating my body. good results. definitely new to me. provided fun, brain power (you'd be surprised on that), exercise. fit my schedule.

 

Did you take dance classes or learn this in some other way? Curious.

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How about studying the brain? Because of our circumstances this year (which I've probably repeated so many times that people are getting tired of it! But my husband had a left-hemisphere stroke...), I've been doing tons of research on the brain. It is F A S C I N A T I N G. And if you're interested in the brain and spirituality, a friend recently recommended the book "The Gift in You," based on the author's faith and what she knows about the human brain (she is a doctor). I don't know if I will agree with her conclusions or not -- I haven't read it yet. But it might be an interesting place to start.

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How about film studies? I'm living vicariously thru my son ;). I really like movies, and he can now share with me the cool stuff he's learning. He's introduced me to terrific films, esp the foreign ones I wouldn't ordinarily watch, and provided me with the reasons they are considered "good." Goes way beyond "I like it."

 

I really enjoyed listening to some of the director commentary on dvds with him. One of the best wasn't exactly from the director--We watched Citizen Kane and then, later, watched the commentary, which I think was by Roger Ebert. Extraordinary. Another interesting one was linked to The Shining. The director's daughter (also a director) made a short film about the movie; you can find it on some of the dvd versions. Very interesting--talks a lot about innovative techniques (first to use some sort of camera--can't remember exactly) and the director himself (sort of a slice of life of the production, as well as watching him work).

 

It'd be something that could entertain you, enlighten you, and maybe give you new ideas. You can pick it up and put it down, too.

Edited by Chris in VA
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Thank you all for these lovely suggestions! Now I am having TOO many ideas, LOL. :drool5:

 

Just to comment a few. I actually do / did dance - still do sometimes with DH, at some point we both learned most of the classical ballroom dances. Practical art is not really my thing, though those who mentioned art history are VERY close as it is something very dear to me :001_smile:, in fact I almost went into that field. I remained an amateur, but learning more about art history always fascinates me, especially as I am relearning some things and getting exposed to some more with one daughter interested in architecture.

 

Math actually sounds GOOD! It was one of those things I had thought of, but did not really dare to put into practice. I do not have an exceptionally strong math background, but I think that I would enjoy doing something of that kind, as long as it is not so complex that it begins to frustrate me. But what in math could I study? I studied set theory and probability some time ago and found it quite charming, on a basic level, but most of math is a completely unknown land to me, I have no idea where to even begin. What can one do in math that is entertaining but not awfully difficult? Any specific books anyone can recommend?

 

Cuisine is a terrific suggestion - my only fear, though, is that I started eating more lately and if I spent a minute more around food than I already do, it would manifest. LOL.

 

I actually like some more "obscure" film too. Any concrete suggestions, other than Italian cinema?

 

Jjhat - I have pretty much gone through most "standard" documentaries and popular books that deal with it; I think the next step would possibly already be too "scientific" for me? I agree that it is an absolutely fascinating topic. I will check the book you mention.

 

I tried to sing, but my voice is really awkward in the recent years. I would be interested into some music research though, e.g. I am particularly fond of some aspects of music history and that is a potentially nice interest. Gotta think about it some more.

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Quote:

Originally Posted by cbollin View Post

I was well pleased with learning dance fitness. I was surprised at the brain power involved with getting the moves right and coordinating my body. good results. definitely new to me. provided fun, brain power (you'd be surprised on that), exercise. fit my schedule.

 

Did you take dance classes or learn this in some other way? Curious.

 

 

Jazzercise. took classes - originally just for exercise to try to lose weight. had no clue that I'd end up liking it so much that I became an instructor. Lots of the steps engage my brain.

 

-crystal

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Here's fone for you - Body Building. Now, before you disregard it as anti-intellectual it is quite the opposite. As you learn to do this sport properly (you don't have to compete) you will read a lot about nutrition and physiology (but not in a text-booky kind of way).

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For math, what about looking at some of the problem sets in Alcumus in Art of Problem Solving. If you play with it for a few days, it might help you identify what level would be a good fit for you.

 

I went through 4 semesters of college calculus, but I think I've never understood concepts as well as when I've been doing AoPS chapters ahead of my kids.

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For math, what about looking at some of the problem sets in Alcumus in Art of Problem Solving. If you play with it for a few days, it might help you identify what level would be a good fit for you.

 

:iagree: Alcumus is fun and addictive. Or how about watching 2-3 Khan Academy videos a day and trying the online problems?

 

2-3 videos usually = 30 minutes.

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Just thinking again here. Gardening ends up being a great way to back into the sciences. Before you know it, you will NEED to understand photosynthesis!!! The compost pile can be an intellectual career in itself! Then onto solar engineering, etc....it never really ends! The physical and creative aspects are quite rewarding, you'll feel more connected to the world.

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If I had your motivation, I would probably study economics. While I know a bit about it from my history studies and from talking to friends and family IRL who work in finance and in government, I do not feel like I have a strong systematic understanding of the subject: the different schools of thought, current systems around the world, how currencies and future markets truly work, etc. Given the state of the global economy, I wish I understood this subject better.

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Years ago I decided to study the art of knitting. I wanted to learn how to knit in the round from the top down (no seaming.. no knitting separate pieces and trying to somehow knit them all together in the end and wonder why nothing fit!). I took up reading about Elizabeth Zimmermann and just fell in love with the stories she shared about her life interspersed between the patterns. She was a funny woman, and it made the artform come alive for me more than many of the modern knitting books could have. I have collected several of her books over the years.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Zimmermanns-Knitters-Almanac-Knitting/dp/0486241785/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321836491&sr=8-1

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How about learning to cook Italian:D (OK - that was a joke. Chinese food perhaps? )

 

John Holt, the author of the homeschool classic Teach Your Own, wrote that if you want to learn something, use a book written for a child of about 10-12 years old. A Chinese cookbook written for children that is very good and gives lots of historical/cultural background about the cuisine is Cooking the Chinese Way (which is part of a series of cookbooks meant for children).

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I've been doing tons of research on the brain. It is F A S C I N A T I N G.

 

:iagree:

 

Studying the brain and what to do if you have a stroke might turn out to be extremely useful personally, or if not, it could help you discover other information on the way which is useful in other ways.

 

This is TED lecture of a neurologist who had a stroke and she discusses how the other part of her brain handled this emergency, how she rehabilitated, etc...

 

Joan

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Thinking a bit more about what I would want to study if I had the time and energy. Usually, the things I pick require a mix of physical practice and mental practice. For example, some day I am going to do more music theory, not just the theory part but the ear-training and sight-singing part as well, and currently I am working on painting and classical guitar (when I have time). Origami is on my list, and brush-painting. I spent a very happy winter intensively studying Japanese garden design and then built a garden when the weather warmed up and some day, I will extend my tiny garden into the rest of the yard. But if I were going to do something that didn't involve the physical piece, I would study astrophysics or topology or mathematical modeling (there is probably an official word for that but I don't know what it is) or robotics. Some day, I am going to study more electronics, too, and upgrade my very basic ham license and hack things and learn to use my son's arduino. Some day, I am going to learn to do computer animation. Some day, I am going to go back to programming computers for fun.

 

Nan

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If I had your motivation, I would probably study economics. While I know a bit about it from my history studies and from talking to friends and family IRL who work in finance and in government, I do not feel like I have a strong systematic understanding of the subject: the different schools of thought, current systems around the world, how currencies and future markets truly work, etc. Given the state of the global economy, I wish I understood this subject better.

Hey, this is an AWESOME idea! Thank you! :D

This, indeed, HAS been one of those areas I have been largely ignoring over the years, yet which interest me and I would like to learn more about it.

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I just finished a book called "The Undercover Economist". It gives a very nice broad view of what economics is and how you look at its issues and has proved to be a nice companion for dd to read along with her text. Michael Lewis has books out called "The Big Short" and also "Liars Poker" which give you a nice broad view of how markets and trading work. I like watching "The Nightly News Hour" economics reports with Paul Solomon. Way back in the beginning of the current financial crisis, he explained things like market behavior and monetary policy quite clearly and entertainingly. Dd likes looking at the forest before trying to understand the trees. These sources have been helpful to both of us.

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Music history and analysis is something that I'd like to know more about. Perhaps a good music appreciation education would cure me of my current obsession with Baroque pieces.:tongue_smilie:

Art history would be interesting. I found field botany to be a worthy pursuit, particularly identification of winter twigs. There's just something really neat about taking something dry, hard and dead looking and connecting it to the tree it will be in the spring. I think if I had the opportunity today I'd work on identifying lichens. I live in the lichen-hunters paradise, and I feel so stupid when I can only identify British Soldiers and Reindeer Moss. It's science, but not anything like biochemistry.

 

For economic study I highly recommend The Wealth and Poverty of Nations.

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Hey, this is an AWESOME idea! Thank you! :D

This, indeed, HAS been one of those areas I have been largely ignoring over the years, yet which interest me and I would like to learn more about it.

 

If you do pursue economic studies, be sure to share what resources you end up using! Maybe I'll finally bite the bullet myself. :D

 

(I just can't help linking to this, even though it is a little cheesy. There are these

with "rap" wars between Keynes and Hayek that are hysterical! One of my husband's former co-workers stars in one; that is how I came to know of them. Just a fun look at two competing economic theories. Some folks' high schoolers might enjoy them!)
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... this too marvelous a topic ... :)

 

If math sounds GOOD, how 'bout getting the math necessary to work through Strogatz' Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos? that may venture too near to science, though; but I like having a goal for math, and find Stogatz delightful, and his nonlinear firefly dynamics enchanting. -- full disclosure: I'm not up to those differential equations yet myself; my math ed. paused when Button's homeschooling started ;)

 

Linear algebra is super cool, too ...

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Well, Ester Marie, what have you decided?...inquiring minds want to know. I'm guessing body building did not make your top 10 :D.

You all have given me TOO many ideas, so I am still in the process of deciding. :tongue_smilie: Economics sounds very appealing at this point, I have a very modest background there, and it IS an important topic. Now I only have to decide where to begin.

If math sounds GOOD, how 'bout getting the math necessary to work through Strogatz' Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos? that may venture too near to science, though; but I like having a goal for math, and find Stogatz delightful, and his nonlinear firefly dynamics enchanting.

That looks scary.

 

Are there frightening images there? I have some kind of a mild "issue" with some visual patterns (e.g. fractals, at that picture in the Wiki article about chaos, etc.), I just cannot look at them without losing my sanity, or at least so it feels. :D

Why not volunteer and help those in your area somehow? I think that would be a marvelous education in itself and very rewarding.

I think taking another rather fixed out of house responsibility would be too much for me at this point; I was more looking for something which I could do inside, and perhaps even not on schedule but improvizing with the time I have. Thanks for the suggestion though - and thanks to everybody else too. You have given me some very nice ideas which, even if not immediately, I may use later. :001_smile:

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Sort of related to Econ -- if I were going to choose a math area that I think everyone should have some knowledge of, it would be basic statistics and their use/misuse for public information purposes. How to Lie with Statistics is a great read (although somewhat dated with respect to salaries), contains a lot of information and isn't mathematically overwhelming. There are other more mathematical treatments of course.

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