Green Country is full of smart people who love to learn new things. Fortunately, it’s also full of cool classes. Local colleges, businesses and institutions offer lots of interesting courses.
It’s January, and it’s a perfect time to make resolutions that will add quality to our lives. And while it’s tempting to choose the same old few goals we always make — losing a few pounds, exercising more — why not resolve to do something you’ve never tried before, something that might put you on the path to a fun new hobby or career?
Yes, that’s right — we’re suggesting you resolve to learn something new. And before you say, “I’m not in school anymore” and turn the page, consider the many powerful, valuable advantages that come with learning new things as we age.
First, it can benefit your career. Adding a new skill can help you fill a new role, opening up more job opportunities. But that’s not the only advantage. Learning also broadens our perspective, giving us better insight into the lives of others. This builds emotional intelligence — a key skill companies are looking for, because employees who have it make better teammates and are more successful at their jobs.
But learning isn’t just about career success. It’s also vital to our long-term health and happiness. Psychologists say learning new things helps us to be more confident, more emotionally resilient, and more likely to retain our mental sharpness as we age.
Fortunately, Green Country is full of cool classes to keep you learning something new all year long. Here are 19 of our favorites to get you started.
Sleuth it up
Want to see if you can become the next Sherlock Holmes? If it’s a crime solving career you’re dreaming of, you can study Practical Law Enforcement at Tulsa Tech. For current law enforcement personnel, you can add to your skills at Northeastern State University, which offers a Crime Scene Investigation certificate. CSI, here you come!
Release your inner Picasso
For those with artistic yearnings, Green Country excels at offering art classes of every kind. One place to get your feet wet, without having to have any significant art background, is the Tulsa Art Center. The Center offers classes for children and adults, from beginners to advanced, in acrylics, calligraphy, cartooning, digital art, photography, and more.
Stain that glass
Whether you love the stained-glass windows of the area’s many historic churches, or you love the idea of hanging a homemade sun-catcher in your home, Tulsa Stained Glass can help. This art studio offers classes for creators of all levels, and you can test out the waters by taking the Garden Spirit Sculpture class — two hours of guided learning with supplies provided so you can take home a stained-glass piece you made personally.
A star is born
If you or your child has dreams of dancing, singing or acting onstage, check out the offerings at Theatre Tulsa. This innovative, education-focused theatre develops students of all ages and ambitions, from the beginner to the Broadway-bound. With Theatre Tulsa’s many workshops, classes and seasonal camps, you or your child can gain skills in diction, dance moves, acting techniques, improvisation and more, like the rising star you are.
Craft an instrument
For those who enjoy woodworking projects, Tulsa Wood Arts stands ready to assist you in improving your skills. A popular class is Build Your Own Guitar or Bass course — 36 hours with Seth Lee Jones, Tulsa’s own professional luthier craftsman. Jones helps you make an instrument that is both aesthetically pleasing and produces the best possible sound.
Climb Tulsa has been teaching people in Northeast Oklahoma gym climbing skills since 1997. It’s a popular form of exercise, and Tulsans clearly love it because Climb Tulsa is building a new, state-of-the-art facility with over 20,000-square-feet of climbing, scheduled to open in spring 2018. Sign up to bolster your skills in bouldering, top rope climbing, lead climbing, and the use of climbing gear.
Fish roll ups
The second Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m., Fuji Sushi Bar hosts a hands-on class that teaches you all you need to know for making sushi at home. You’ll be shown how to make Fuji’s mouth-watering menu creations, like their salad dressing, miso soup, sushi rice, and five sushi making styles. You’ll make your own meal, then chow down. Sushi Hana offers similar classes on select Sundays.
Be the belle of the ballroom
Dancing is an entertaining, social way to burn calories, stay fit and make friends. And Green Country is blooming with studios like Allstar Ballroom Dance Company, where you can learn to waltz, foxtrot, cha-cha and tango your way across the floor. Bring a partner or go solo, take group lessons or private — there are many choices to fit your budget and comfort level. The studios host regular dance parties too, so people can practice what they’ve learned and mingle with other students.
Blow it up
We’re talking about glass here, not explosions. Tulsa Glassblowing School has been teaching Green Country residents to master the fine art of glassblowing since 2007. You’ve probably seen their wares as you’ve wandered the Tulsa Arts District during First Fridays downtown. In addition to offering community classes open to the public, they also offer special classes for veterans and active duty military, as well as outreaches to local youth.
Be the bean
Coffee bean lovers, this one’s for you. Learn more about brewing an expert cup of coffee at home. With Topeca Coffee Roaster’s Coffee Geek Classes, you can expand your passion for specialty coffee by discovering more about the process of roasting, brewing and tasting. There’s also a First Saturday Tasting you can sign up for, as well as more specialized training for professionals, under the aegis of the Specialty Coffee Association Coffee Skills Program.
Become a cake boss
Well, you can do this without going to New Jersey. All Things Cake, one of Tulsa’s premier custom cake studios, doesn’t just dish up the sweets. They also offer classes so you can satisfy your sweet tooth and your love for beautiful baked goods in your own kitchen. Learn techniques to decorate cookies, cupcakes and other baked items in fashionable style.
Wax on, wax off
Achieve the strength — both inner and outer — of Mr. Miyagi by training at one of the many dojos around Green Country, whether you want to develop a peaceful, meditative Tai Chi routine at Thomas Academy, karate at Apollo’s, tae kwon do at Golden Dragon, or Brazilian jiu-jitsu at Clinch in Owasso. Martial arts are popular for self-defense, of course, but they’re also a great tool for teaching discipline, patience and confidence.
In a fast-moving, competitive world, being able to learn new skills is one of the keys to success. It’s not enough to be smart — you need to always be getting smarter. We need to constantly look for opportunities to stretch ourselves in ways that may not always feel comfortable at first. Continual improvement is necessary to get ahead. Here are some principles to follow in your quest for self-improvement.
Check your readiness
When working on a new skill or competency, you need to ask yourself two things. First, is your goal attainable? Second, how much time and energy can you give to the project? Unless your goal is attainable and you’re prepared to work hard, you won’t get very far.
Make sure it's needed
Is the skill relevant to your career, your organization, or both? Gaining a new skill is an investment, and you need to know upfront what the return will be.
Know how you learn best
Reflect on some of your past learning experiences, and make a list of good ones and another list of bad ones. What did the good, effective experiences have in common? How about the bad ones? Identifying common strands can help you determine the learning environment that works best for you.
Self-improvement can feel overwhelming. You can’t take on everything. If you do, you’ll never do it. Choose one or two skills to focus on at a time, and break that skill down into manageable goals.
To move from experimentation to mastery, you need to reflect on what you are learning. Otherwise the new skill won’t stick. Always share your goals with those individuals who can provide informational or emotional support along the way. Talking about your progress helps you get valuable feedback, keeps you accountable, and cements the change.
Too often, we approach a new skill with the attitude that we should nail it right out of the gate. The reality is that it takes much longer.
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