At this time of year, lots of folks are thinking about how to improve their lives in the year ahead. In my opinion, one of the most enjoyable ways to improve your life is to learn about new things. Fortunately, Nashville has lots to offer in the way of educational opportunities – we earned our nickname “Athens of the South” well before the Parthenon replica was built for the 1897 state Centennial celebration. Here are five ways I’m planning to expand my mind in coming months:
Nashville Parks and Recreation offers a variety of wintertime classes and activities at facilities in our area. The activities at Warner Parks Nature Center are generally free, have an outdoorsy focus, and offer a good excuse to get some light exercise in one of Nashville’s most beautiful parks. This year, I’m signing up to learn about invasive plant species while volunteering to help eradicate these interlopers in our natural forests. (Later, I’ll put the knowledge to good use in our own backyard!) You can find a class or activity to suit your style on the Nashville Parks & Recreation website.
University School of Nashville (formerly Peabody Demonstration School) is a private, co-educational, K-12 day school located adjacent to the Vanderbilt campus on Edgehill Avenue. Each winter, they put together an eclectic catalog of Evening Classes targeted toward adult learners. In past years, I’ve learned the basics of using a digital SLR camera and explored the ins and outs of keeping backyard chickens. This year I’m going to learn about blogging (cart-before-the-horse moment) and how to bake a baguette like a pro. Prices vary – see the attached catalog for more information.
We’re just weeks past the 150th anniversaries of the Civil War battles in Franklin and Nashville. In November, I saw my first-ever battle reenactment at the Carnton Plantation in Franklin, and was able to learn more in that day than I recall ever learning in school. I care little and less about antique firearms or battle strategies, but I’m fascinated by the heroism and touched by the monumental sacrifice of area families during the war. I’ve recently started reading Robert Hicks’ bestseller, The Widow of the South, and plan to revisit the historic Carter House and Carnton Plantation one weekend soon.
Speaking of books – each year I value the serious readers of my Book Club more. If you don’t currently belong to a REAL book club, I heartily recommend you find one. (But for heaven’s sake, don’t quit your fun book club!) You can join a book club at Parnassus Books in Green Hills, or ask at your local Metro Nashville Public Library branch.
Wintertime is also a great time to spend a few hours in a museum. Like many Nashville natives, I don’t take full advantage of the attractions our city has to offer. Before Spring, I’ll make a point of visiting The Upper Room to see the nearly life-sized woodcarving of The Last Supper and tour the Christian Art Museum there. I also want to check out The Musicians Hall of Fame in its new location at the Municipal Auditorium.
At first glance, that may seem like an ambitious agenda, but remember that these mind-expanding activities are meant to be spread out over the entire season – there will be plenty of time for Nashville’s other diversions!