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Reach Heavenly Heights With Cloud 9 Art School!

Owner and Art Instructor Charlene Collins Freeman Tells Her Entrepreneurship Story

Dreams do come true…

But you have to push them uphill first!

Facebook recently showed me a memory from about seven years ago. In that post I announced that I was teaching my first art classes. I was so nervous!

It was at a consignment store in Kenmore full of used furniture and bric-a-brac. They were closed on Sundays and were therefore willing to let me teach in the shop. I had three people sign up. I had no idea of how to develop this into my dream career, a full time teaching artist.

Wow, that was just 7 years ago. Seems like a life time ago. Since that time, I began teaching at many community colleges and several art schools, I’ve had literally hundreds of students, the majority of which have become dear friends. I’ve take students to Italy, France and England every year for sketchbook travel adventures.

And now I have opened my own school. Wow. Just wow!

The school is Cloud 9 Art School, located in a lovely house at 18414 103rd Ave NE in Bothell.

I have a line up of excellent teachers, all professional artists, who bring their passion, encouragement, and expertise to their students at Cloud 9.

We offer classes for kids, teens and adults in drawing, painting, sketching, jewelry, meditation, mindfulness, and even knitting. Parents can drop kids off on Friday night for art classes instead of hiring a babysitter. We offer workshops for Girl Scouts to earn badges and we create travel adventures to inspire joy and creativity.

We will continue to add new classes and workshops for a variety of media so stay tuned!

We are a joyful community focused on creativity and discovering our world. Cloud 9 Art School is committed to being a place where children, teens and adults find inspiration, learn, and have fun in a relaxed, professional studio environment.

I’m thrilled! You could say, I’m on Cloud 9!

Charlene Collins Freeman
Owner & Art Instructor

Upcoming Classes From Cloud 9 Art School:

About Connect2Classes — We are a marketplace for professional and life enriching classes, workshops, and learning immersives — connecting voracious learners with the best local expertise. In Seattle, Online, and San Francisco!

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Go Back to School and Build Your Career

Everyone Can Benefit From Being Current and Savvy About New Technologies, Business Practices, and Other Learning Trends

Technological change demands stronger and more continuous connections between education and employment. –Andrew Palmer, The Economist

As technology advances, it’s no longer enough to rely solely on formal education and college degrees when seeking employment. We need to be learning all the time as we adapt to changing conditions in our jobs, careers, and business markets.

The Economist recently published an article on the importance of lifelong learning in the modern age. The industrial revolution has been replaced by the information revolution and the knowledge economy, and jobs are changing: the jobs of the future will be less repetitive, more centered around technological innovation, more creative, more challenging — and more rewarding.

So how can we prepare for these changes in how we work? The answer is lifelong learning, which continues over the course of a person’s entire career.

“A college degree at the start of a working career does not answer the need for the continuous acquisition of new skills, especially as career spans are lengthening,” says The Economist. “Vocational training is good at giving people job-specific skills, but those, too, will need to be updated over and over again during a career lasting decades.”

Understanding the importance of continuous learning is essential to success. And the younger you are, the more obvious it is. Those who rely heavily on the Internet are learning all the time — they’ve developed the key skill of learning to learn. Even in the age of Internet, though, there’s still a place for classes, workshops and bootcamps that boost learning to new heights. Companies now spend less money on training and professional development, so it’s important for employees to have their own continuous learning strategies.

“According to the Pew survey, 54% of all working Americans think it will be essential to develop new skills throughout their working lives; among adults under 30 the number goes up to 61%,” The Economist tells us. “Another survey, conducted by Manpower in 2016, found that 93% of millennials were willing to spend their own money on further training.”

Connect2Classes wants you to find success in learning and in your career. We offer thousands of classes to help you boost your skills, keep your knowledge up-to-date and stay afloat in a competitive workforce. Regardless of your field, skills like software knowledge, social media know-how and graphic design are incredibly useful. And life skills like project management, team leadership and conflict resolution are critical to any successful career.

It’s time to get ready for the future with Connect2Classes and our wide array of online and in-person classes in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area. Start your lifelong learning now, and invest in your career.

About Connect2Classes — We are a marketplace for professional and life enriching classes, workshops, and learning immersives — connecting voracious learners with the best local expertise. In Seattle, Online, and soon in San Francisco!

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Creative kids are better prepared for career success

CreativeKids-Connect2Classes Camps

Preparing your kids for their future may seem daunting, but picking activities that nurture their creativity, imagination, and ingenuity can help set them on their career path.

Automation will replace more and more jobs in the coming years, but new jobs are being created that we couldn’t have imagined. In a rapidly changing marketplace, innovation will become even more critical to career success. According to an IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs, creativity was picked as the best asset for an organization’s success.

But, creativity, it turns out, is on the decline. A 2010 study of about 300,000 creativity tests going back to the 1970s found that creativity has decreased among American children in recent years. Children are less innovative and imaginative, as well as being less able to articulate their ideas than in previous decades.

There is good news, thankfully. Creativity skills can be nurtured through hands-on, interactive processes. Creativity is often about resourcefulness and being able to work within constraints. Innovation comes from being able to evaluate available resources and combining them in novel ways.

Laura Vida of Seattle’s Frog Leg’s Academy believes the kitchen is the perfect environment for kids to get a taste for creativity. “Cooking is a great way to develop creativity because it can be so many things. I’m amazed at the endless amount of ideas and transformations that we can do with food,” says Laura.

Silvana Junge, owner of Silvana Desserts, agrees that cooking is a great way for kids to develop self-confidence through the combination of creative and technical skills needed to create in the kitchen. “My kitchen is a big lab where kids play with math, science, and chemistry,” says Silvana. “They mix and match flavors, color, and textures using their imagination, senses, and intuition to create something totally unique.”

Creativity skills learned in one area, say visual, culinary, or performance arts, can translate to other areas. Once a child, or adult, develops a creative habit, ingenuity becomes a regular source of motivation and inspiration for them.

Christi Cruz of Wedgwood Drama Studio says that “when young people are encouraged to take risks, try new things, and stretch their growing wings in a supportive environment, they gain experiences they can carry with them as they take their next leaps in life.”

Spring break learning experiences for kids and teens are an excellent way to encourage a deep dive into creativity and innovative thinking while maximizing fun. It might even spark a lifelong creative passion in them!

Find camps from cooking to baseball now at Connect2Classes.com and take advantage of our $10 spring break coupon.

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Untangle your feet and start dancing!

Dance Classes in Seattle

Many people dream of quitting their day jobs to pursue their passion projects. In 2007, Natasha Maltseva, owner of LaVida Dance Studio in Bellevue, did just that. “I’ve danced all my life and I always dreamed of having my own studio,” she said. “But I never thought it was possible.”

After having children, Maltseva decided it was time for a change. She left corporate America and her job managing a bank branch and then remodeled part of her home into a studio. “I started pretty much out of my basement,” she said. “When the business grew, I partnered up with a friend, and we moved to a bigger location.”

Now a lively studio that caters to all ages, LaVida Dance Studio specializes in Ballroom, Latin and contemporary styles of dances like hip-hop and jazz.

One of Maltseva’s goals has been to build a community of Argentine Tango and Salsa dancers on the Eastside. “We have a great turnout for our monthly social dance nights where you can get an introduction to a new style of dance, or practice one you’re working on. The great thing is partners are not required for social nights. Everyone is welcome to come and dance.” she said. People even come from places as far away as Olympia and Vancouver.”

If you’re a little more serious about dance, LaVida’s team helps dancers at each level shape feasible goals. For kids under six years old, the goals are listening to the teacher, gaining better control of their bodies, and having a great time. “For them, dancing is play,” she said of the youngest dancers. “Our goal for kids is to build their basic abilities and just enjoy dancing.” Adult and youth dancers participate in a high-end stage production where they can showcase their abilities and tell a story.

From first time dancers to reluctant husbands, to champion Tango-ers, she says the benefits of dancing go far beyond building strength and cardio exercise. “Life is full of hardships,” she said. “But dancing prompts uncomplicated happiness, promotes self-confidence, provides a community of people who people who are happy to see you.”

Untangle your feet and start dancing! Choose from Absolute Beginner Salsa, Tango, and Zouk or look at the higher level classes. You’ll find a class that will get you moving today. Visit Connect2Classes to register.

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Learning Experiences Are Gifts to Remember

Learning is Experience

 

When we give others the gift of experience, especially transformational experiences, we give them so much more than any physical gift. We give them opportunities to fuel their passions, get inspired and motivated, and we can even set them on a path towards ever greater learning and success in life.

Why do experiences matter?

Our brains are hard-wired for memories that are tied to experiences that stir up our emotions. The Harvard Business Review’s Elements of Value Pyramid illustrates how people perceive the benefits of products and services that are available to them. There are several elements that demonstrate the allure of novel and life-changing experiences. The emotional and life-changing layers are indicative of personal change associated with experiences that truly resonate. Such resonance is the magnetism that keeps people coming back with the hope of re-creating pleasurable experiences that have stuck in their memories.

We have identified 30 “elements of value”—fundamental attributes in their most essential and discrete forms. These elements fall into four categories: functional, emotional, life changing, and social impact. – Harvard Business Review

Creating Emotional Connections and Lifelong Memories

This sort of emotional engagement works in a variety of ways, and is so powerful when it comes to learning new things!

People don’t actually buy products and services. We buy experiences that leave lasting memories. Exposure to something new and unfamiliar increases the release of dopamine in the brain. Novelty motivates people to expect pleasure.- Shayla Price

What is delight really about? Surprise. Novelty. Wonder. The unexpected. Deviating from business as usual and injecting awe, a visceral emotion reaction, into the learning journey. Novelty and surprise fuel the pleasure-seeking reward centers of our brain, which is exactly the opposite of evoking a stress response due to poor product or service experience. The brain chemicals matter when it comes to making memories. These are also the sorts of experiences that people are prone to share, and to ask people to join in on.

How do memories develop and stick with us? And how does that impact learning? It’s about responding to latent human needs for novelty and surprise, the cornerstones of delight.

The experiences we remember are defined by change. Our stories are made up of experiences that are new, novel and those that have greater significance. We actually don’t choose between experiences, we choose between memories of experiences. And even when we think about the future, we don’t think of our future normally as experiences. We think of our future as anticipated memories. –Daniel Kahneman

Need a last minute holiday gift? Consider a gift card from Connect2Classes.

 

Check out thousands of upcoming classes on Connect2Classes.

Enter your interests and receive $10 off your first class!

Gift certificates are available!

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Learning Experiences Are the Very Best Gifts!

Holiday classes

We used to think that human brains are vessels to be filled with things they need to know. But we all know that lecture-based teaching often puts learners to sleep! Thankfully, there has been a renaissance in learning in recent years. For example, project-based learning is now of major interest for both kid and adult learning. Learning, it turns out, is an individual effort that relies on a person’s passion to learn new things. Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience.

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. – Benjamin Franklin

We must be involved and engaged to truly learn, and if you want to learn new things, or want to help a loved one learn, knowing how we learn best will help. It can also help people discover how much they love to learn and create, which as we know, makes us all happier!

What fuels our passion?
Learning happens naturally when the subject matter is something we’re intrigued by. Know someone who loves home improvement shows? Gift them a woodworking or remodelling class!

How do we learn best?
Some of us thrive while reading or writing, but many of us are visual or kinesthetic (learning by doing) learners. Young learners, in particular, can struggle in school where they need to sit still, so show them how much they love to learn with a class or workshop tailored to their interests.

How do we learn tangible skills like cooking, arts, crafts, or DIY?
There has long been a tradition of teaming masters like chefs and artists with apprentices to learn their craft. Many of us need to watch skilled practitioners and learn skills and tips step-by-step.

How do we remember what we learn?
While we might immediately forget a chapter we read in a how-to book or even the content of a video, hands-on learning experiences allow us to learn while getting feedback from experts.

What can we learn that will make a difference to our lives?
Improving career and business skills, as well as life skills like relationships, benefits us enormously. It’s so important to stay current, even if it involves learning about something we’ve never heard of!

We’d love for you to give the gift of experience this holiday season! Gift certificates are available! Great gifts for far-flung loved ones, or even for a class you can take together! One of our grandmothers decided on sushi-making classes for her 12-year old grandson – what can you choose to wow those you love?

Want to learn how to do something life-changing?

Check out thousands of upcoming classes on Connect2Classes.

 

 

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Career Roadmap – Interested in the Video Game Industry?

illustration-1736462_960_720We talk a lot at Connect2Classes about how so many things are changing when it comes to preparing for a career. With so many classes, workshops and online classes available, people now have more options than ever when it comes to developing their careers. For one thing, traditional college, or at least 4-year degrees, are becoming less important in some industries. What really matters is what you can do, which can be demonstrated via a portfolio of work. If you’re a developer, it’s working apps or games, or even code samples. If you’re a designer or artist, having a strong portfolio of game art is the way to get you noticed. There are other options, as well, like project management, writing, and customer service. You can even start your own business or game studio, or work as a free agent.

If you’re into games to any degree, then a career in the games industry might be for you. In this article we will look at the roles available in the game industry, as well as some of the skills you might consider developing if one of these career paths is of interest to you. If you’d like to know how much you could expect to make in any of these careers, check out the Game Developer Salary Survey 2013.

One thing to know is that people in the game industry tend to work very hard. and hours can be long, especially during ‘crunch’ time (when a title is about to launch). Still, game companies can be very fun places to work, especially if you enjoy spending time around other gamers in a highly creative setting.

Game Production

Executive Producers might be responsible for a portfolio of games, and create budgets and launch strategies. An MBA or degree in business administration or management is helpful, and a wide array of experience in the games industry is mandatory.
Producers are typically limited to one game and are responsible for project management, scheduling and budget. They guide the overall course of game development and make sure all the pieces come together adequately. Courses or certificates in project management or game production are nice to have, but not always required.

Game Research

Market Research is where it all begins, by looking at the overall landscape, understanding competitors, and defining audiences for a game. It might also include making recommendations about launch strategy and may even affect the concept and design of a game. Market researchers typically have degrees in business, statistics or social science.
Player Research is related to the experience of game play and might involve game usability testing or play-testing. Most player researchers have advanced degrees in psychology or the social sciences and may be experts in human factors research.
Data Science is an emerging area related to data collected on players and game play. Data scientists analyze collected data and make predictions about future player behavior or help development teams with predictive models to accelerate game play. Most data scientists have backgrounds in computer science and are skilled with databases, algorithms and machine learning.

Game Design

hare-643353_960_720Game Designers are central to any game project and responsible for designing the overall story and game play elements. They maintain game design documentation and ensure that other elements (art, sound, writing, etc.) are cohesive. There are many professional programs available that focus on this area.
Mechanics or System Designers are focused on specific game mechanics, which can vary according to the genre of the game.
Level designers are responsible for designing specific tasks, missions or quests, and design both obstacle and reward systems to accompany them.

Game Art

Concept Artists are responsible for conceptualizing the game’s story, settings and characters. A background in fine art is typical, but there are also programs available that focus on video game art.
Character Design and Modeling (or Animation) is the field focused on developing characters and character detail and illustrating them in 2D or modeling them for 3D.
Level Designers on art teams are responsible for implementing the overall look and feel of a game into individual levels.
UI Design is responsible for the overall user interface including the HUD (heads-up display) and other status mechanisms.

Game Music and Sound Effects

Audio Producers and Managers are responsible for all audio content in a game, and may manage various people. A background in sound recording is useful, or a certificate in sound design for games.
Composers write original music for games, much like film or tv composers write scores.
Sound Designers are focused on all of the ambient sound in a game, and work to uphold the game’s vision through sound.

Game Storytelling and Writing

Narrative Designers are responsible for the overall story and for ensuring that the narrative plays out through all the various elements of the game. Any sort of creative writing background is useful here, and experience with games, in particular, is mandatory. Education in game design theory and game mechanics is also helpful.
Writers are typically given projects to work on, like writing content for quests, or character dialogue.

minecraft-1017449_640Game and Systems Development

Game/Systems Architects are responsible for overall technical design of a world and may recommend or develop a game engine, as well. A background in computer science is typical for this role, and specific education in game development is also useful.
Game Developers and Programmers are typically assigned to some aspect(s) of the game and may work on one or several components for a length of time.

Game Testing

Quality Assurance positions are not terribly well paid, but they are frequently entry level. You’ll be playing games to find glitches or bugs, or even issues with usability.

Game Talent

Character Models are used as a basis for concept art or 3D models. A standard modeling portfolio is just about all you will need, though games-specific experience is also appreciated.
Voiceover Actors supply the voices for characters. Any voiceover experience could be relevant, but you will need a demo reel and will have to audition.
Motion Capture Actors are agile and disciplined people who take direction readily.

mario-1557974_960_720Marketing and Advertising

Marketing roles in game companies can cover a lot of territory, from strategic planning to communications, event/trade show planning, marketing and advertising campaigns, and social media. If you have experience in other digital-related fields it’s possible to parlay that experience for the games industry, especially if you’re an avid gamer yourself.

Customer Support

Customer Support roles are some of the most important, and some of them are entry level positions.

Community Managers monitor and moderate social media, forum posts, knowledge bases and other locations where game information is shared. They help resolve disputes and often provide input on the player point-of-view to development teams.

Educate Yourself

It’s never been easier to educate yourself for a career in the games industry. Playing a lot of games is helpful, of course, but there are also many classes and workshops that will help you learn specifics. If you’re really serious, consider a degree or certificate from a school that specializes in game design and development.

 

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Preparing For The Jobs of the Future

With technology advancing so rapidly, we know that the next 10-20 years will be full of changes to how people work. This means changes, as well, in how people educate themselves and how they find work. For one thing, the rapid advancement in technology will reach exponential proportions and along with it, the changes needed in the workforce.

Increasing automation is also looming on the horizon, but what it means is that some types of jobs will wane. Over the long term, technological innovation creates more new jobs than are lost through obsolescence. And some industries will continue to thrive, including healthcare and retail.

Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum reported that humanity would be out 7 million jobs by 2020 due to automation—with admin and office jobs taking the brunt of the blow. – Monster.com

We are also coming upon a new era of human potential, with robotics, human augmentation, space travel, virtual reality, holography, self-driving cars, and sustainability/permaculture innovations creating entirely new industries. It’s the stuff of our futuristic dreams, and you can be involved.

The best way to predict the future is to invent it. – Alan Kay

A lot of new career choices are also emerging, some of which would have seemed inconceivable just a couple of decades ago. So, how best to prepare for this shifting career terrain? For one thing, becoming a lifelong learner keeps you current, and that keeps you competitive.

With the world moving as fast as it is, we need to become a society of people who are always learning new things. – Julie Friedman Steele, World Future Society

The Career and Business Crystal Ball

Consider that many of today’s jobs barely existed 10-20 years ago, but are now commonplace and lucrative:

  • ipad-605420_960_720Mobile and tablet application developers
    Game designers and developers
  • Social media coordinators and managers
  • Web content developers
  • Big data miners and scientists
  • Personalization and automation specialists
  • Robotics and nano-technology scientists
  • User experience researchers and designers
  • Digital artists, animators, and illustrators
  • 3D printing manufacturers
  • Health, wellness and life extension practitioners
  • Life and career coaching
  • Renewable energy jobs

162 Jobs in the Future…

Free Agents

smartphone-1733892_960_720Free agent culture thrives in the film, media, and music industries and is beginning to spill over into the other creative and tech industries. With many freelance marketplaces available, professionals can gravitate towards project-based work. It’s not for everyone, but if flexibility and novelty drive you, becoming a free agent can be a great lifestyle choice. It also means that if you have several unique skillsets, you can work on projects in a variety of roles.

Free agents are:

  • Project managers
  • Graphic designers and illustrators
  • Digital and traditional artists
  • Film and video crews
  • Bloggers and podcasters
  • Photographers
  • Musicians
  • Web and application developers
  • Writers and journalists
  • Teachers and instructional designers
  • Speakers and coaches
  • Special needs and occupational therapists

Entrepreneurs and Small Business

teens-629046_960_720Becoming an entrepreneur has never been easier, given the technology, fund-raising, and marketing tools now widely available. Even if you are just in the idea or prototype phase, crowd-funding your endeavor is a real possibility. How do you know if your idea will appeal to modern consumers? Novelty, life enrichment, efficiency, and convenience are major drivers.

  • Technology start-ups – cloud-based services, wearables, virtual reality, pervasive/ubiquitous computing, and artificial intelligence.
  • Food-based businesses – artisanal food products, food delivery services, special diets, and health & wellness.
  • 3D printing – buildings, household items, organs, and even food!
  • Robotics and artificial intelligence – robots for manufacturing, caretaking, and dangerous jobs. AI and machine learning for better prediction and personalization.
  • Renewable energy and sustainability – solar, wind, and green building practices.
  • Urban, hydroponic, and vertical farming.
  • Cannabis businesses – growing, distribution, equipment, and edibles.
  • Online sellers – handmade items or small manufacturers selling through sites like Amazon and Etsy.
  • Lifelong learning providers – for in person and online learning.
  • Bio-medical devices – health and wellness monitoring and tracking, body augmentation.
  • Space exploration, mining, and tourism.
  • Citizen journalism, social activism, and education.

Jobs of the Future

blog2How do you prepare for jobs that don’t exist yet? With more exciting developments on the horizon, the jobs of the future will spring out of today’s innovations in bio-tech, climate adaptation, personal care, and a wide array of technological innovations. Future jobs will require more complex and specialized skills; things that robots and automation aren’t great for.

It’s going to take a long time for robots to be good at soft skills, like social and emotional intelligence and cross-cultural competency. – Fast Company

 

 

Essential Skills for Future Careers:

  • Digital and social media literacy
  • Adaptability and agility
  • Knowing how to learn
  • Networking and collaboration with others
  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Managing chaos
  • Simplifying and minimizing complexity
  • Entrepreneurial and creative thinking
  • Mentorship and coaching
  • Anticipating customer needs

Enter your interests and receive $10 off your first class!

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Want to learn how to do something life-changing?
Check out thousands of upcoming classes on Connect2Classes.

 

 

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Why Making Things Helps Us Thrive

We can all use more things in our life that make us feel happy and fulfilled. There has been a cultural renaissance these last few years as we learn more about what really motivates people. It’s something we nearly lost in our manufacturing-heavy culture: the pleasure associated with making things and sharing one’s creations with others. This is also a business opportunity, so read on if you are intrigued by the idea of turning your passion into an enterprise.

This is a revolution. If you can imagine it, you can make it. And that’s new to the world. – Mark Hatch, CEO, Maker Media

Your Brain on Creativity

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Why does making and sharing things feel so good? It begins with creativity, one of those things that spurs us on to ever greater accomplishments. There is nothing quite like creative experiences to throttle our brains into happier brain chemistry by putting us into the flow states associated with positive psychology. And creative thinking also has benefits in other parts of our lives: it improves problem-solving, big picture and design thinking, as well as collaboration with others.

It doesn’t matter whether you are into art, crafts, DIY, or tinkering, your brain loves to create and rewards you for doing so. The process of creating and sharing your creations releases dopamine, a natural anti-depressant in your brain. Dopamine is the brain chemical associated with reward and the pleasurable sensations that come from it. It’s like we are wired to create. But legions of artists, crafters, do-it-yourselfers and makers could tell you that!

There’s survey evidence to support crafting’s dopamine effect. In one study of more than 3,500 knitters, published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81% of respondents with depression reported feeling happy after knitting. More than half reported feeling “very happy.”

The positive effect of creative activities is well-documented in the scientific literature. Creativity and the novel experiences associated with it keep the brain agile and also motivate us. Things as simple as coloring or doodling encourage this effect, but the most benefit comes from ongoing creative pursuits:

Crafting can help those who suffer from anxiety, depression or chronic pain, experts say. It may also ease stress, increase happiness and protect the brain from damage caused by aging. – CNN

Do Schools Kill Creativity?

The following talk by British educator Sir Ken Robinson is one of the most popular TED Talks of all time. He argues that creativity is more important than literacy and that traditional schooling kills creativity. This is especially true now that home economics, woodshop, arts, and music are disappearing from schools. Less young people are learning how to cook, sew, and build via formal education, although classes, camps and after-school activities are filling the gap. Robinson says that our innate drive to create and to embrace trial and error are not valued in an educational system that tries to minimize failure. Creativity also tends to be multi-disciplinary, which is not widely embraced in our siloed educational systems.

DIY & Maker Culture

A major trend the last decade or so has been a shift towards people becoming more and more creative and leveraging that creativity to explore new interests or even launch new businesses. We’re creating handmade and one-of-a-kind items that stand out in the world of mass manufacturing. Some of us are launching businesses on sites like Etsy, an extravaganza of novel items launched from creative brains (which boasts 25 million shoppers). This has been fueled, as well, by the recession economy that has turned so many people into entrepreneurs:

In a world of mass-produced products, modern technology has made it easier than ever for a single individual to create and distribute items that are customizable and unique without having middlemen like manufacturers. This growing shift will continue to affect the economy and will likely have big implications on large retailers. It is a special time in history that will have a transformative impact on our future. – Huffington Post

You might have heard about the Maker movement, a grassroots movement based on the emergence of consumer-level tools for design and manufacturing. It’s reported that 135 million Americans are makers, which is nearly half the population. The maker manifesto calls for making, sharing, giving, and learning. It’s making a difference. MakerFaires are popping up everywhere, and there are other maker-inspired communities and events, as well:

Craft nights are replacing book clubs. Libraries and museums are being turned into “Makerspaces,” physical locations where people can come together to make. The sale of sewing kits in Walmart stores has recently gone up 30 percent. And just last year, someone created Christmas cookies using a 3D printer. – Huffington Post

This has become a major economic phenomenon because of a perfect storm of conditions:

  • Access to increasingly sophisticated tools to create, like 3-D printers.
  • The ability to find inspiration online.
  • Crowdfunding to make your idea reality.
  • Online marketplaces and social channels to get feedback and distribute creations.
  • Inexpensive and effective tools for branding, marketing, and promotion.
  • Learning opportunities provided by other creators.

Boosting Your Creativity and Learning DIY Skills

Albert Einstein said that creativity is intelligence having fun. At Connect2Classes, we are committed to helping our learners explore their creative potential. Creative businesses can be some of the most fulfilling, as well as being lucrative in a world of people looking for unique and one-of-a-kind items. We’d love to hear about how your creative endeavors affect your life – please comment!

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Want to learn how to do something life-changing?
Check out thousands of upcoming classes on Connect2Classes.

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Hop off the Hayride, These Summer Camps Are for Every Kind of Kid

Teen classes

For many parents, the mention of summer camps evokes images from their own childhood: sparkling blue waters, lush green forests, campfire sing-alongs, and banging cabin doors. Yet summer camp has become so much more than the far-flung sleepaway camps of yore. Of course, plenty of traditional summer overnight camps continue to enchant kids, but there’s a whole new breed of fun to be had at day camps closer to home. Here’s just a sample of what kids can explore during the summer months.

Discover a whole world of Summer Camps for Kids

Have a kid who likes sports but not necessarily traditional team sports? How about a fencing camp? Rain City Fencing in Bellevue offers half-day summer fencing camps for kids of all skill levels. They even offer a truly unique full-day camp that exercises kids’ bodies and minds. In conjunction with Chess4Life, this weeklong camp combines a half-day of fencing with a half-day of chess skills, strategy, and play.

What if your child is more artistic? Various theater and music camps cater to a wide range of talents and skills. Drama Kids International in Bellevue offers a diverse menu of themed camps, from pirate adventures to superhero mysteries, all summer long. Off the Wall School of Music in Seattle offers rock-band camps where kids from 7 to 16 work together to form and name their band, practice music, then perform and present both a live song and a music video to their parents at the end of the week. The staff works more closely with younger kids, but the older campers are given more freedom and technology to create and edit their own video and develop their own style. Chris Marx, owner of Off the Wall, says “Those music videos tell the best stories. They can show their parents and friends the music and the video they created during their week here.”

Many camps also cater to the computer and STEM skills that are such an integral part of today’s world. The Academy of Interactive Entertainment in Seattle offers several camps for teenagers that combine art and technology in fantastic ways. Kirsten Ugalde, vocational education and training coordinator for AIE, says that the Academy’s 3-D Animation Camp is one of its most popular. Many students, she says, are surprised at their ability to create their own character and develop it from a static image on paper to something that really moves in the digital world in just one week. “Making something come to life really attracts people”—especially, she says, students with an artistic streak. Ugalde says she also believes that these camps are a great way for older students to test the waters of a possible career: “Teens can see if this is something that they want to do after high school. It’s a good way for them to get their feet wet.”

Camps like these are a wonderful opportunity for children to practice something they know they are interested in or try something completely different. The Seattle area is full of programs that are unique, creative, and definitely not your mother’s summer camp. No canoes or swimsuits are involved, but kids can still jump in with both feet and have a wonderful time making memories they’ll cherish.

Connect2Classes helps smart, curious Seattleites find courses at more than 100 education providers in the Puget Sound area. Search and sign up for the best classes in the city; from cooking and web design to photography and beyond, through this free online class marketplace.

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