Learning Ahead: November 16th-20th, 2015

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

This week we are featuring 22 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.


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Berkshire County

Wednesday, November 18, 5:30pm-7pm — CULINARY ARTS
Do you or someone you know have food allergies? Are you interested in creating foods that are safe and accessible for a wider range of people? Learn substitutions for dairy, eggs, and gluten, and make a delicious tofu ricotta at “Vegetarian Cooking with Lia Douillet: Food Allergies & Substitutions,” hosted by the Mason Library. Participants are asked to bring a cutting board and knife. Pre-registration requested. 413-528-2403. 231 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, November 18, 7pm-8:30pm — FILM STUDIES & DANCE
Ballet Boys (NR, 2014) takes viewers through the disappointments, victories, forging of friendships, first loves, doubt, and faith in a timeless story of finding one’s own way in the world of ballet. This Norwegian documentary, a part of the Ramsdell Library‘s Creative Film Series, highlights the personal stories of three male ballet dancers over the course of the first four years of their careers. 413-274-3738. 1087 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, November 19, 4:30pm — ART/MUSEUM ADVENTURES
What will you learn with your own personal guide at the Williams College Museum of Art? Walk through the galleries with a Williams student and discuss highlights of the collection during “Student Guides in the Galleries.” 413-597-2429. 15 Lawrence Hall Drive, Suite 2, Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Franklin County

Tuesday, November 17, 6:30-8pm — ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP/CULTURAL STUDIES
What is “green burial”? Get the answer to this question and more at a presentation by Green Burial Massachusetts at the Dickinson Memorial Library. This talk, the finale of the Fall Death Series, covers the topics of natural burial, conservation cemeteries, the more general home funeral movement, and the possibility of Massachusetts’ first green cemetery. 413-498-2455. 115 Main Street, Northfield, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, November 18, 7pm — LOCAL FAUNA/STEM
Did you know there are more than 1,000 moose in Massachusetts? Come to the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center to find out about them at “Moose: Life History, Ecology and Current Research.” Dr. Stephen DeStefano, one of the foremost experts on moose in the Northeast, will share current research focusing on habitat use, movements, and the status of moose in southern New England. He will also discuss how he and his graduate students tag moose and use high-tech equipment to monitor their movements. For ages 12 and older. 800-859-2960. 99 Millers Falls Road, Northfield, MA. (FREE)

Hampshire County

Tuesday, November 17, 7pm — ART HISTORY/WOMEN’S STUDIES
Local author Jeannine Atkins presents “Paintings Hung in Parlors,” an illustrated talk at the Jones Library about American women artists who worked in Paris in the nineteenth century. One of these was May Alcott, the main character in Atkins’ recent novel, Little Woman in Blue. Alcott was one of many women who took art classes in Boston after the Civil War, then painted in Paris. This illustrated talk will feature May and other women whose work never found its way to museum walls, as well as one who did: Mary Cassatt, May’s American friend in Paris. It will also address the relationship between May and her famous sister, Louisa, who wrote Little Women. 413-259-3223. Woodbury Room, 43 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, November 18, 10am-4pm – PLANT STUDIES/CULTURAL STUDIES
Fall Chrysanthemum Show at Smith Offers Community-Based Learning: The annual Fall Chrysanthemum Show is on at the Botanic Garden of Smith College. The show runs every day until November 22 and features many beautiful flowers throughout Lyman Conservatory. This year’s display highlights Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging). Great opportunity to integrate the mum into learning about history, math, culture, and culinary arts. Extended hours (4pm-8pm) on November 20. 413-585-2740. 16 College Lane, Northampton, MA. (DONATIONS ACCEPTED)

Wednesday, November 18, 12:30pm-1pm – MUSIC STUDIES: Take the opportunity to relax and enjoy live music at Smith College’s Music in the Noon Hour event. Smith faculty artists and friends will perform half-hour recitals of classical music. Takes place at Sweeney Concert Hall. 413-585-3222. 122 Green Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, November 18, 7pm — PARENTING/MEDICINE
With C-section rates dangerously over 30% in America, are midwives the solution? The Mama Sherpas,
Midwives Across America
, at the Academy of Music, examines a growing shift in the birthing industry: the rise of Caesarean sections. In recent years, the idea of a “collaborative care” practice, where doctors and midwives manage women’s care together has begun to gain traction. Research has demonstrated that collaborative care models produce better outcomes for mother and baby, including fewer C-sections. This moving and urgent film provides an intimate lens into how midwives across the country work within and better the hospital system, redefining how the US looks at the birthing process. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with some of the nurse-midwives featured in the film. 413-584-9032. 274 Main Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, November 18, 7:30pm — WORLD MUSIC/DANCE/CULTURAL STUDIES
Experience the mesmerizing “Fan Dance” and “Drums of Ecstasy” as Sounds of Korea: Percussion and Dance appears at the UMass Fine Arts Center. Under the direction of Sue Yeon Park, noted master artist and recent recipient of the NEA National Fellowship Heritage Award, this traditional performance group presents a range of styles and settings, from classical court music and dance traditions, to theatrical masked dances and solo instrumental folk genres. Using a wide variety of percussion and wind instruments, including the prominent kayagum, their beautifully crafted instruments and colorful costumes play an integral role in their stunning productions. 413-545-2511. Fine Arts Center Concert Hall, 151 Presidents Drive, Amherst, MA ($$)

Thursday, November 19, 12:15pm — TRAVEL/CULTURAL STUDIES
This week’s Museums a la Carte lecture at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is “Norway: More than Vikings and Fjords.” Amy S. Dane, global traveler, lecturer, and photographer, explores the art, history, music, and natural beauty of Norway. Visitors are invited to bring a bag lunch (cookies and coffee are provided). 413-263-6800, ext. 488. 21 Edwards Street, Springfield, MA. (<$)

Thursday, November 19, 12:20pm-12:50pm — ART
betwixt: Judy Pfaff 1985/92, an art exhibition currently on view at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, invites viewers to explore Pfaff’s signature installations, which are known for their explosive array of forms and colors. Learn more about the pieces in this collection, and explore the notion of what it means to be an object at rest, in a gallery talk with museum director John Stomberg. 413-538-2245. Lower Lake Road, South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, November 19, 2pm — LOCAL HISTORY/THEOLOGY
Jonathan Edwards was a preacher, philosopher, and theologian who lived in 18th-century Northampton. Learn more about the man and his mark on religion and history from Local History & Genealogy Librarian Elise Bernier-Feeley as part of the “Cookies with a Curator” series at the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum in Forbes Library. 413-587-1014. 20 West Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Friday, November 20, 6-7pm — CULINARY ARTS/TEENS/TWEENS
Maybe Sushi isn’t your thing, but have you tried Candy Sushi? The Sunderland Public Library is hosting a free Candy Sushi-making class for teens and tweens. We will show you how to make a variety of candy sushi using all of your favorite candies and will also offer banana sushi for a healthier option. Please sign up in advance. 413-665 2642. 20 School Street, Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Friday, November 20, 7-9pm — PHYSICS/TWEEN
A2Z is bringing back our Dog Bite Yo-Yo Club Skill Toy Night and hosting it at the Eastworks building! Whether you throw yo-yos, juggle, spin diabolos, or speed cube, this is a great place to come and share the joy of skilled activity with other people in our area. 413-586-1611. 116 Pleasant Street, Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

Friday, November 20, 8pm — WORLD MUSIC/DANCE
The Mt. Holyoke College Department of Music presents the Five-College West African Music Ensemble. Directed by Faith Conant, the Ensemble will perform selections of traditional music from southern Togo, Ghana, and Benin. Famed Ghanaian dancer Nani Agbeli, drummer Saeed Abbas, and other guests will join us for a Kpanlogo dance demonstration and lesson– don’t miss it! Children always welcome. 413-538-2306. McCulloch Auditorium, Pratt Music Hall, 50 College Street, South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Hampden County

Monday, November 16, 6-7:30pm — WRITING/FAMILY DYNAMICS
“Where the Heart Is: What It Means to Be Home” will be the final installment of the fall historical lecture series at Wistariahurst Museum. This interactive workshop invites participants to share, write, and develop their own reflections on what it means to be home and what it means to be a family. Renee Denenfeld will facilitate by sharing readings, providing prompts, and creating an atmosphere for participants to build community that can last beyond the evening. All experience and ability levels welcome. Appropriate for self-directed teens. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street, Holyoke, MA. ($)

Monday, November 16, 6:30pm — WORLD HISTORY/CULTURAL STUDIES
T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale University and National Book Award Winner Carlos Eire will present “Still Waiting for Snow in Havana: A Brief History of Cuba” at the Storrs Library. Eire was born in Havana in 1950 and fled to the United States at age 11, as one of 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban children airlifted by Operation Peter Pan. He will share an overview of Cuba’s distinguishing features, interspersed with personal recollections and observations. 413-565-4181. 693 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, November 17, 2:30pm — WRITING/TEENS
What is Nanowrimo? National Novel Writing Month, in which participants challenge themselves to write a 50,000-word novel in the month of November. Think you’ve got it in you? Give it a try! Whether you’re Nanowrimo-ing it up or just love to write, stop by the Southwick Public Library! We will have an hour of writing activities and prompts to get the creativity going or you can spend the time working on something you already have in progress. You are welcome to share your work. Snacks will be provided. 413-569-1221. 95 Feeding Hills Road, Southwick, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, November 17, 5:30-7:30pm — STEM/ART
Learn to draw in 3D as Holyoke Codes presents a workshop on Sketchup. There’s a reason SketchUp is synonymous with friendly and forgiving 3D modeling software: it doesn’t sacrifice usability for the sake of functionality. Start by drawing lines and shapes. Push and pull surfaces to turn them into 3D forms. Stretch, copy, rotate, and paint to make anything you like. For ages 10 and up. 100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, November 18, 7pm — FILM/EDUCATION/VALUES
Bay Path University presents Beyond Measure, the sequel to the acclaimed Race to Nowhere, by director/producer Vicki Abeles. The film lays bare the striking evidence that America’s obsessive achievement culture is making our children sicker, not smarter. Front and center are promising solutions — the stories of courageous communities around the country who are working together to break free from achieve-at-all-costs expectations. With in-depth research, personal anecdotes, and a dose of common sense, the film shows communities how to realize their collective power to change the system to better reflect our true values: health, happiness, and genuine learning for our children. 800-782-7284. Mills Theatre, Carr Hall, 588 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA. ($)

Thursday, November 19, 7pm — MUSIC/HISTORY/PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT
Dan Gabel and The Abletones Combo, featuring vocalist Elise Roth, perform authentic Music of the 1930s and 40s at the Palmer Historical & Cultural Center. Dan Gabel, considered an expert on jazz, big bands, and the Great American Songbook, will present an evening of history, music, and dancing. Come learn about the composers in this original American art form, and listen and dance to the music performed by some of the best musicians in New England. 413-289-9295. 2072 Main Street. Three Rivers, MA. ($)

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