Learning Ahead: August 24th-28th, 2015

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long!

This week we are featuring 12 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.


Learning Ahead is sponsored in part by:


North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens


Berkshire County

Monday, August 24. 9am-10am — PHILOSOPHY
What does it mean to be inspired? Where does inspiration come from, and how can we inspire others? Dive into deep conversation with cultural and artistic luminaries from the Berkshires and explore the nature of inspiration at the Trustees of Reservations‘ Monday Morning Breakfast Chat. An informal breakfast will be provided on the veranda. Appropriate for older students and adults. 413-298-3239 x 3016. Naumkeag, 5 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge, MA. (< $)

Tuesday, August 25. 4pm — ART EDUCATION
During the Victorian Era, it was popular to display natural objects under glass domes. Commonly displayed items included seashells, taxidermy specimens, human hair sculptures, and seeds! What influences were at play in inspiring this phenomenon? Learn all about this art/collection period from art educator John Whitenight at Ventfort Hall‘s Tea & Talk event. A traditional Victorian tea will be served after the presentation. Appropriate for older students and adults. Reservations recommended. 413-637-3206. 104 Walker Street, Lenox, MA. ($$)

Tuesday, August 25. 5:45pm-6:45pm — PARENTING & PHILOSOPHY
Is there a point in human development when people become people? How does language shape our shared reality? What does parenting look like when we acknowledge and embrace the full humanity of every child? Local author Hannah Markos, founder of Four Quarters Press, delves into these topics in her book, Raising Whole People, which she will discuss at the Mason Library. 413-528-1720. 231 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, August 26. 8pm-9:30pm — LOCAL HISTORY/OCCULT
One way to learn more about a community–even one you think you know a lot about–is to experience it through a guided tour. The “Ghosts & Legends of Upstreet Pittsfield” walking tour, hosted by local folklorist and historian Joe Durwin, will allow you a unique opportunity to stroll through the streets of Pittsfield while listening to tales of the odd, ghostly, and strange-but-true sort that accompany locations throughout the downtown area. Wear light-colored clothing for visibility. Due to mature themes, it is advised that participants be 12 or older; the event is best suited for an adult audience. Rain cancels. 413-347-9877. Pittsfield Common, Pittsfield, MA. (< $; SUGGESTED DONATION)

Thursday, August 27. 7pm; Friday, August 28. 7pm — IMMIGRATION
The lives of immigrants who arrived and settled in Pittsfield from 1840-1940 are showcased in rich detail in I Am Pittsfield: The Immigrant Century, a play being performed at Melville’s Arrowhead Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings through August 29th. This realistic interpretation, based on written and oral histories, contains themes of ethnic hostility, poverty, and prejudice, and as such is appropriate for mature teens and adults. Reservations strongly recommended. 413-442-1973. The Red Barn Theater, Melville’s Arrowhead, 780 Holmes Road, Pittsfield, MA. ($)

Friday, August 28. 7pm-10pm — VISUAL ARTS/DRAWING
The sun’s light, reflected off of the full moon, casts an impressive glow across nighttime landscapes. What a perfect opportunity to spend more time outside, enjoying the warmth and sounds of summer? The Clark Art Institute offers a special opportunity on this full moon’s eve, when it hosts a moonlight drawing session. The evening starts with a half hour drawing lesson followed by time for participants to work on their creations. Individual assistance will be offered to participants as they create these nighttime drawings. All art supplies will be provided, and light refreshments will be served. Registration requested. Rain cancels. 413-458-0410. 225 South Street, Williamstown, MA. ($)

Franklin County

Friday, August 28. 8pm — OUTDOOR MOVIE/COMMUNITY EVENT
Arrive early to get a good seat for the Greenfield Recreation Department‘s outdoor, big-screen showing of Cinderella (2015, PG). Green River Swimming Area, Nash Mill Road, Greenfield, MA. (< $)

Hampshire County

Monday, August 24. 7:30pm-8:30pm — PARENTING/ACADEMICS
Are you looking for ways to help your child become a more confident learner? Have you wondered how to identify and support your child’s development of essential life and academic skills? Writing and executive function coach, Kim Starkman, will be at the Forbes Library to offer a class for parents who would like to gain a better understanding of executive function skills and learn strategies for helping their children overcome learning challenges. 413-587-1011. 20 West Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, August 25. 10am-12pm — COMMUNITY SERVICE/FOOD SECURITY
Gardening allows you to connect with the Earth, and gardening with others allows you to build connections with folks in your community, too. Then there’s the satisfaction of helping grow food, and the improved understanding of the origins of our foods! Food for All Amherst offers several fabulous volunteer opportunities throughout the summer in which you and your children can help with planting, seeding, and weeding. Light refreshments provided. Mass Agricultural Learning Center, 911 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, August 25, 7pm — EDUCATION/FILM SCREENING & DISCUSSION
Join North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens for a screening of the film, Class Dismissed: A film about learning outside of the classroom. Here’s how the filmmakers describe it:  “All across America, parents are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the state of public education. The current state of our educational system & economy shines a spotlight on problems with traditional schools. Class Dismissed showcases a growing trend in alternative education strategies that are working for many families across America.” Discussion and tour of North Star’s new building follows screening. 413-582-0193. 45 Amherst Rd., Sunderland, MA (FREE)

Wednesday, August 26. 7pm-9pm — ECOLOGY/ENTOMOLOGY
On any given summer night, the sounds of countless insects fill the air. What insects are making these sounds, and what roles do they play in our local ecosystems? Learn about summer’s night insects through a talk and outdoor exploration with naturalist David McLain at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. This program is intended for older teens and adults. Wear long pants, as the outdoor trek passes through fields. Registration required. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road, Easthampton, MA. ($)

Hampden County

ASTRONOMY
The Seymour Planetarium at the Springfield Science Museum offers multiple shows every day, all week long! 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street, Springfield, MA. ($)

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