"The Known Universe" expands students' horizons [Parenting & Family]

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As a stay at home mom of a two year-old, I often feel like I am lacking in intellectual stimulation and adult interaction.  I long to read books that are not about Thomas the Tank Engine or Elmo, to have conversations that don’t revolve around snot or poop.

Sometimes I think about going back to school (I was working on my Ph.D. before I decided to stay at home with my son), but I don’t think I have the time, the money or the energy to go to school full-time. Sure, I could take my cue from Will Hunting and just pick up a book on the subjects I’m interested in, but that social dimension would still be missing.  What I really want is to be able to take a variety of classes on topics that interest me without the pressure or commitment of enrolling in a degree program.

Enter MyLibraryU.  This new program at the Louisville Free Public Library features free courses for those interested in going back to school, starting college for the first time, or (like me) simply thirsting for knowledge and intelligent discussion.  Three types of courses are offered: Library Short Courses, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and ACT/SAT prep courses. 

Since the ACT/SAT prep courses are not relevant to me and the online courses would still be a solitary endeavor, I decided to check out the short courses.  Last night was the first meeting of the first course, The Known Universe, taught by Jefferson Community and Technical College instructor Christopher M. Graney.  The class will meet again at the Main Library each of the next four Wednesday evenings.

The subject matter—the history of astronomy—was similar to a cosmology course I took my freshman year of college.  The student body, however, was quite different.  There were close to seventy people in the classroom, many of whom were close to seventy.  There were some younger adults in the group, but although the course is open to high school students, I didn’t notice anyone that young.  I suppose it takes a certain level of…maturity to willingly take on 60 or so pages of reading per week for no credit.  And I guess that’s what I was looking for.

Photo: Courtesy of Louisville Free Public Library

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