Class It Up: 21 Ways to Become a Better You in 2016

Learn something new—anything from cooking to coding—at the best adult education classes in Boston.

If you want to learn something new this winter, you’re in the right place. You don’t even need to go outside, when massive open online courses like edX give you the opportunity to take free classes from Boston’s most prestigious Ivy League schools. But if you prefer to embark on your journey of self-discovery not from the comfort of your couch but in the flesh-and-blood presence of an instructor, your options are still vast. No matter what your goal is for 2016—to write the great American novel, create an artistic masterpiece, whip up a mouthwatering meal, or improve your mechanical skills to become more zombie-apocalypse-proof—there’s a class out there for you. Here are a few to consider.

Writing Classes at GrubStreet

Was your NaNoWriMo a no-go? Over at Boston writing center GrubStreet, turbo-charge your prose with classes like “So You Want to Be a Writer in 2016?,” taught by Boston magazine contributor Ethan Gilsdorf.

GrubStreet, 162 Boylston St., 5th Floor, Boston, 617-695-0075,

Stir Boston

Stir Boston / Courtesy photo via Stir/Facebook

Cooking Classes at Stir or ArtEpicure

One of our favorite cooking classes, ArtEpicure boasts helps novices and gourmets alike sidle up to the stove with confidence. In their tricked-out kitchen, learn the art of Thai cuisine, or take a private lesson. Over in the South End, Barbara Lynch’s Gruppo wants to help impart a little of their culinary magic, with demos in everything from Ghanian comfort food to “ski lodge classics.”

ArtEpicure Cooking School, Brickbottom Artists Building, 1 Fitchburg St., Somerville, 617-996-5334,; Stir, 102 Waltham St., Boston, 617-423-7847,

Take a German Class at Goethe-Institut Boston

There are plenty of ways to learn a new language around these parts, but for the aspiring German student, no language academy draws raves like our own Goethe-Institut. No Faustian bargains here, just world-class instruction.

Goethe-Institut Boston, 170 Beacon St., Boston, 617-262-6050,

Basic Woodworking at the Eliot School

To get better at thinking outside the box, learn how to make one first. If all your shop projects thus far have turned out like Homer Simpson’s spice rack, pick up a hammer, some new skills, and “an appreciation of the properties of wood” over at the Eliot School. And once you master that, consider taking up something more advanced, like longbow carving—they teach that sort of thing, too.

The Eliot School, 24 Eliot St., Jamaica Plain, 617-524-3313,

North Bennet Street

Bookbinding at North Bennet Street / Courtesy photo via North Bennet Street School

Fundamentals of Bookbinding at North Bennet Street School

The 135-year-old North End trade school—which, for Nick Offerman, is “nothing short of Valhalla”—teaches everything from spindle turning to piano tuning. In our brave new world, precious few people know how to bind their own books. Now you can be one of them.

North Bennet Street School, 150 North St., Boston, 617-227-0155,

Sewing Basics at Gather Here

Why be a slave to fashion, when you can make your own killer outfit? The first step on this journey to sartorial utopia involves getting familiar with your sewing machine. At fibercraft makerspace Gather Here, take their intro class to learn how to put your treadle to the metal and make your very own tote bag.

Gather Here, 370 Broadway, Cambridge, 781-775-9504,

Tool Training: 3D Printer 101 at Artisan’s Asylum

Insectile jewelry, health goth sneakers, human bones—Boston businesses are using 3-D printing to make all sorts of wild, sky’s-the-limit gee-whizzery these days. If you want to get in on this burgeoning territory, but have no idea how, fret not. Artisan’s Asylum, Somerville’s ultimate maker playspace, will be your guide.

Artisan’s Asylum, 10 Tyler St., Somerville, 617-284-6878,

Programming for Non-Programmers Bootcamp at General Assembly

Sure, we all want to level up our careers, but going back to school can be a daunting hurdle to clear. General Assembly is here to make new professional paths—from digital marketing to graphic design—more accessible. If you want to dabble in hackerdom, this intensive two-day course will teach you coding basics.

General Assembly Boston, 51 Melcher St., Boston, 617-207-6245,

Bellydancing for Beginners and Advanced Beginners at Dance Complex

If you, like pretty much everyone else on the planet, have resolved to get more exercise this year, yet shudder at thought of the mind-numbing boredom of the treadmill, consider something more stimulating—like a weekly session of shimmying and undulating around a dancefloor to Middle Eastern rhythms.

The Dance Complex, 536 Mass Ave., Cambridge, 617-547-9363,

MIG Weld a Critter at Stonybrook Fine Arts

If you can use a glue gun, you can learn to weld. At the end of this four-hour course on metal inert gas (MIG) welding, you’ll have your very own metal sculpture to take home. So get ready to spark one up.

Stonybrook Fine Arts, 24 Porter St., Jamaica Plain, 617-522-3331,

Diablo Glass School

Glassblowing / Courtesy photo via Diablo Glass School/Facebook

Glassblowing Sampler at Diablo Glass School

In ancient times, the methods for shaping glass were kept a closely guarded secret by the artisans who could command this astounding technology. But Diablo Glass School is happy to share their secrets with anyone who shows up. Spend an afternoon with them, and you’ll come home with a pretty paperweight.

Diablo Glass School, 123 Terrace St., Boston, 617-442-7444,


Cheese from Formaggio Kitchen / Photo by Marian Siljeholm for Best of Boston

Winter Wines & Cheeses at Boston Center for Adult Education

Guzzling merlot is easy. Appreciating the nuances of what’s in your glass—and what would pair well with it—is a bit trickier. Get tips from oenophile and cheese expert Adam Centamore, a Formaggio Kitchen alum who’ll be teaching this winter course at the ever-dependable BCAE.

Boston Center for Adult Education, 122 Arlington St., Boston, 617-267-4430,

Poetry Workshop at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education

Where better to study poetry than at the site of the blacksmith’s home immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow? In addition to holding regular classes, the CCAE also hosts the Blacksmith House Poetry Series, their regular poetry series held since 1973.

The Cambridge Center for Adult Education, 42 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-547-6789,

Pottery and Wheelthrowing at Brookline Arts Center

Take out the day’s frustrations and make art at the same time by throwing some clay around at Brookline Arts Center, where you can learn how to make everything from comic books to jewelry.

Brookline Arts Center, 86 Monmouth St., Brookline, 617.566.5715,

AirCraft Aerial Arts

Aerial arts / Courtesy photo via AirCraft Aerial Arts/Facebook

Taster Classes at AirCraft Aerial Arts

If you’ve always wanted to run away to join the circus—but only for a day at a time—AirCraft’s single-serving sampler classes are for you. Beginners can learn the ropes with a basic primer on silks, hoops, and trapeze.

AirCraft Aerial Arts, 14 Tyler St., Somerville, 617-308-8742,

Broadway Bicycle School

Broadway Bicycle School class grads / Courtesy photo via Broadway Bicycle School/Facebook

Basic Class at Broadway Bicycle School

One of our favorite cycling shops doesn’t just sell bikes; they want to teach you how to fix your trusty steed, too. In their six-week hands-on basic class, you’ll learn how to adjust your brakes, replace a chain, and more.

Broadway Bicycle School, 351 Broadway, Cambridge, 617-868-3392,

Tiki drinks at No. 9 Park

Tiki drinks at No. 9 Park / Courtesy photo via No. 9 Park/Facebook

Cocktail Class at No. 9 Park

The 1936 classic How to Win Friends and Influence People outlines six ways to inspire admiration in others—but we feel that number seven should be “Learn how to mix really good drinks.” And every month, you can hone that skill at No. 9 Park’s cocktail classes. This January, they’re taking on tiki, where you’ll get a crash course on rum drinks, DIY beachy ingredients, and festive garnishes.

No. 9 Park, 9 Park St., Boston, 617-742-9991,

Rebecca Pacheco

Rebecca Pacheco / Courtesy photo

Learn Yoga at the Boston Public Library

For those of us who’d theoretically like to attain greater inner tranquility (and toned arms), but would much rather be snuggled up in a leather armchair reading a book than sweating it out in a bikram class, the yoga’s coming to you this year. For one month, star yoga instructor Rebecca Pacheco will be hosting all-ages, all-levels classes at the BPL—for free.

Boston Public Library, Abbey Room at Central Library, 700 Boylston St., Boston, 617-859-2382,


Installation view from ICA’s Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957 / Courtesy photo by John Kennard via ICA

Hardware Jewelry DIY at ICA

Few things spark the imagination like a trip to an art museum. And few classes harness museumgoers’ creative impulses like the ICA’s Friday-night “After 5” programs, mini lessons in everything from latte art to yoga. For their workshop on Anni Albers–inspired jewelry (“famously made from everyday objects”), they’ll show you how to create your own necklaces and bracelets.

The Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Ave., Boston, 617-478-3100,

Guitar Lessons at the New School of Music

While we especially love this Cambridge school for its music classes for kids—where tykes can take group or private lessons on instruments ranging from the piano to the didgeridoo—it’s a great place for adults to pick up an instrument, too. Strum your heart out in their beginner guitar lessons.

New School of Music, 25 Lowell St., Cambridge, 617-492-8105,

Stand-Up Comedy Classes at ImprovBoston

There’s a big difference between being “the funny one” among your bar buddies, and actually getting a crowd to laugh at your jokes. If your greatest dream involves slaying an entire audience with hilarity, take a course at ImprovBoston, where seasoned laff vets will help you craft your own three-minute routine.

ImprovBoston, 40 Prospect St., Cambridge, 617-576-1253,