Binge-watching the Masters by @EdenBaylee
At the start of December 2019, I gave myself a gift of learning. I'd seen numerous ads for MasterClass while searching for interesting gifts for the holiday season.
If you're unfamiliar with MasterClass, it's a streaming platform of online courses that started in 2015 with a simple pitch: Famous people teach you about the thing that made them famous.
At the time, the courses that interested me most were from writers: Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Malcolm Gladwell, Joyce Carol Oates, just to name a few. MasterClass, however, includes instructors from all walks of life—from Dr. Jane Goodall who teaches Conservation to Helen Mirren who teaches Acting to Annie Leibovitz who teaches Photography.
You can either purchase a specific course along with its instructional videos and workbooks, or buy an annual membership which gives you unlimited access to all the classes, including new ones that are added during the year.
I decided to pick up an annual subscription and a second one for a friend. At the start of 2020, I'd already begun prioritizing the courses I wanted to take. My goal was to finish a course a week—entirely possible given that each instructor presents an average of 25 brief lectures that run 6-8 hours in total. By the time I left for holidays end of January, I'd already completed classes by Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman. I was on track to take all the writing courses and numerous self-interest ones as well.
Then March rolled around, Covid-19 slapped us with a new reality, and my focus shifted in a major way. I was caught up in the day-to-day news of the pandemic. If it were not for a reminder email from MasterClass that my subscription was ending shortly, I would've completely forgotten about it.
It put me in a panic, really. How the hell did eight months fly by so quickly?
Of course, I can't do a thing about the time that has already passed, but I want to watch all the courses that interest me before my membership comes due. Talk about learning under pressure! In the past week, I've gained insight into the art of negotiation by Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator. I've watched one module by Thomas Keller on how to make Aglio e Olio and decided to skip his course. He made a simple dish much more complicated than it had to be. Joyce Carol Oates was delightful as a teacher, and I really enjoyed her series. I finished Malcolm Gladwell's course and loved it (best one so far), and now I'm in the middle of David Baldacci's class.
Taking a course as part of MasterClass is a complement to, not a replacement for other kinds of learning. It's not a post-secondary level class. What you're paying for are experts in their fields talking about the creative process, their techniques, art, mentors, and more. If this inspires you or gives you insight into your own process to do better, then it might be worth the investment (approximately $180 USD/year).
Overall, I'm enjoying the learning and will continue to binge-watch over the next weeks!