Education


Farther north in Central Park, the Conservancy (212-860-1370, centralparknyc.org) offers a look around the North Woods, originally designed to reproduce the terrain of the Adirondacks. This free walking tour begins at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (110th Street between Fifth and Lenox avenues) Classes begin August 8.


Aquatic Adventures at the New York Aquarium (718-265-3448, nyaquarium.com) gives kids a chance to get closer to the marine life through behind-the-scenes tours of the aquarium and a beach stroll to identify the signs of ocean life. Students ages six through 11 take the course for four days, and those 12 through 14 stay a fifth day (at this level, they have a chance to speak to trainers and see the research labs). David Blaylock


PHOTOGRAPHY

It might not matter to Michael Jackson if you're black or white, but it does to MV Photo Labs(212-929-3036, mvlabs.com), which offers a three-day fine-printing workshop monthly starting in late October. Beginning with a Friday night reception, the course runs all day on Saturday and Sunday. You'll learn techniques for working in a darkroom, properly exposing negatives, and developing black-and-white prints. Bring your camera and three rolls, and prepare to print some photos in the Saturday sun.


Do you look fat in those pants? How am I supposed to know—I'm just the guy writing this blurb. Odds are, you probably do. But you don't have to anymore—at least not in your pictures. After you take the School of Visual Arts' (212-592-2000, schoolofvisualarts.edu) photo-retouching class, you can say goodbye to Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny, and the gang. You'll learn how to truly make yourself flawless. Now, all you need to find is a course on ethics.


The whole world's becoming digital—shouldn't your education? The International Center of Photography (212-857-0001, icp.org) offers a wide array of courses, including classes that focus on digital photography. Welcome to the era of the microchip. Your watch, your wife, your world: all digital. Well, maybe not your wife. Jonathan Scott


RELIGION

Specially designed for those plagued by free-floating neuroses, the Chakrasambara Buddhist Center (212-924-6706, meditationinnewyork.org/new-york-meditation-class.php) is offering a series of courses this summer on "Transforming Painful Emotions." Classes include "Uprooting Resentment" (August 5), "Healing the Sickness of Guilt" (August 12), "Doubt and Faith" (August 19), and "Pride, Confidence and Insecurity" (August 26). Each class is $14—not so bad for inner peace.


The Gnostic Gospels say that Jesus had a twin, slept with several women, and once, when he was angry, turned a crowd of children into goats. In the last 2,000 years, the ancient documents have been passionately renounced. NYU's "Gnostic Gospels: Truth or Heresy" (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu) will help you assess whether the renunciation was valid: Are the documents nothing more than fiction? Or does Jesus have more to him than we thought?


For "personal attention not commonly found outside of Asia," go to Palyul Changchub Dargyeling Center for Tibetan Buddhist Study (646-831-9804, newyork.palyul.org). Meditation classes are taught according to the teachings of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, founder of Tibetan Buddhism, and firm believer in the emptiness of the world. Rachel Aviv


SPORT

So you've been looking to impress that fair maiden uptown. Or maybe you simply want to get medieval on some friends in Brooklyn. Well, you'll have to know how to use a sword first, and for $100, the Fencers Club (212-807-6947, fencersclub.com) offers five one-hour group classes that'll have you swinging a foil like Don Quixote in no time.


Looking for that good ol' inner peace? Or just dying to kick some ass? Chu Tai Chi (212-221-6110, chutaichi.com) is the school for you. Master Chu offers a series of classes that will teach you meditation and physical health along with fighting technique, depending on your preference. This, perhaps, is one of few places where you could find Jean-Claude Van Damme and the Dalai Lama standing around the watercooler together.


Hook some trail mix onto your carabiner, and get ready to climb. Because with $15 instructional classes and ladies' and date-night specials, there's no better place to go rock climbing than the Chelsea Piers Field House (212-336-6500, chelseapiers.com). All the gear is provided. Take beginner, medium, or advanced routes as you attempt to scale the 30-foot wall. Jonathan Scott


VISUAL ARTS

Even if you can't draw for the life of you, a blank tableau looks good if it's abstract. Feel free to let the paint loose as you explore the "spatial dynamics and pictorial elements" of abstraction through a variety of media in Cooper Union's "Abstract Drawing" (212-353-4195, www.cooper.edu/ce) course. Go ahead and proudly declare you mistook your wife for a hat.


In school, I was always wicked good at cutting out "everything with a [insert letter here]" and pasting them to a piece of paper. Develop your cut-and-paste skills in Cooper Union's "Techniques of Collage Art" (212-353-4195, cooper.edu/ce), where you'll learn the picture-making possibilities of collage, working with a range of materials. They even make great bargain presents!


Feeling blue because all you've got is that lonely snowman on the fridge? Create a portfolio comparable to Picasso's in just four days at this "Weekend Drawing Marathon," beginning August 9. Leave your buddies at the barbeque as you blur the distinctions between painting and drawing at the School of Visual Arts (212-592-2000, schoolofvisualarts.edu/ce), working quickly of course.

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