MasterClass

I love learning. I love learning about anything and everything, but (like everyone else) I love learning about the things I’m most interested in. I was fortunate to have been gifted an all-access pass to MasterClass for my birthday last year by my incredible wife. I originally wanted to take the class offered by Neil Gaiman, which I did, but then I began taking classes by other authors then by other professionals in different fields. I have had nothing but great experiences with every class I have taken, so I thought I’d share them here.

What prompted me to write about MasterClass is the class I am taking right now: Space Exploration by Chris Hadfield. This class has proved extremely beneficial and I seem to have started it at the perfect time. With all the weirdness happening now on Earth, escaping into space (or learning how humanity has been able to do it) has been a huge help in maintaining my flickering flame of hope in humanity. The class has been a reminder of how humanity continues to dream and is trying to better understand our place in the universe. This, I think, is easily forgotten when we are squabbling among ourselves or worrying about the day-to-day. It’s always great to be reminded that we are striving for greater things. I just hate that I have to need the reminding. 

Space has always interested me. In fact, I began my university years studying physics and engineering. I ended up with a degree in English Literature and proceeded to get an advanced degree in Writing, but I’ve maintained my interests in the sciences and other fields which is why I like to read and write science fiction.

MasterClass offers a plethora of subjects including film-making, cooking, music, writing, and business to name just a few. I have completed all classes related to writing. These were taught by Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Dan Brown, David Baldacci, Malcolm Gladwell, James Patterson, Judy Blume, David Mamet, R. L. Stine, Joyce Carol Oates, Aaron Sorkin (screenplay writing), Billy Collins (poetry), and the latest to be added being David Sedaris. 

I’m ashamed to admit that I discovered two of these authors specifically because of their courses. These two being Malcolm Gladwell and Margaret Atwood. I was aware of Atwood’s work, slightly, without knowing about her or being able to associate her name with that work. This work being the television adaptation of her novel The Handmaid’s Tale which I have not seen but I have since read the book. I find Margaret a delight as a person. In the past six months or so, I have listened to all of Gladwell’s books (he reads the books himself which made the audiobook more appealing). David Sedaris’s class was only recently added and I was hesitant to try it. I had read a short essay of his in a college course and liked it. I tried a book of his last year in audio format, also read by the author, and I was dismayed to come away from the book simply thinking of him as an asshole. But I took his class and my perspective changed. I learned more about the craft and about how David comes to it in a way that attracts so many people. He is, like most authors, an observer of human behavior, and he puts his own unique spin on things. I’m happy to say I “understand” how he operates and can therefore better appreciate his work.

There are several authors whose classes I have completed but still have not read any their work, but I plan to read something by them soon(ish). The most surprising one may be Dan Brown. I initially took his class just to learn about writing in general and not specifically about thrillers since I don’t read or write thrillers. I believe you can learn important things from areas you would otherwise not consider even if it falls in the same field. I was thoroughly surprised and elated to find his MasterClass to be one of my favorites. Aaron Sorkin’s screenwriting class is another of my favorites. I’ve dabbled a little into writing for the screen and I learned a lot from him.

I’ve only taken a few classes outside of the ones focused on writing. The first was by Hans Zimmer simply because I am a fan of his work and it is related to film. I will never be a music composer, but it was fun learning more about that field. I have started Itzhak Perlman’s class since I’ve always been interested in learning to play the violin and I hope to at least learn the basics some day.

I plan on taking Neil Degrasse Tyson’s class soon and then delve into other areas. Perhaps I’ll try Penn & Tellers simply because magic is fun. I’ll likely try some classes from actors and directors to learn more about film. Ron Howard, Samuel L. Jackson, and Helen Mirren are ones I am currently wanting to see. Perhaps I’ll try Gordon Ramsey’s cooking classes. I could definitely expand my knowledge to become a better cook.

But for now, I am continuing to learn about space from Chris Hadfield. I’m loving every second of it and am learning a lot about how we are actually doing things outside the atmosphere. I’d never thought of orbiting the earth as being a continuous free-fall over the horizon. I’ve had several little changes to thinking like that so far and I look forward to the upcoming classes on spacewalking. 

If you find yourself interested in MasterClass, I highly recommend it. Perhaps it is the very thing you have been looking for during these uncertain times.