Short courses

The joy of learning to do things for fun

Three years ago, it was like everyone had a side hustle. Yoga enthusiasts became teachers, accountants had a ceramic store on Etsy, graphic designers made weekend wedding cakes. As author Jia Tolentino said, the goal of any hobby or skill was to “always optimize” and use it for your financial and social gain.

But since then, with countless lockdowns included, people’s propensity to constantly work and only do what brings money instead of happiness has diminished and led to a boom for short course providers to across the country, which are now seeing record enrollments of people wanting to learn. a new skill for the challenge and joy of it.

Blacksmith Aiden MacKinnon teaches knife-making lessons at Cut Throat Knives in Melbourne.Credit: Luis Enrique Ascui

“I think it’s easy to underestimate the power of the feeling of making something,” says Aidan Mackinnon, a blacksmith who teaches knife-making classes at Melbourne’s Cut Throat Knives. He explains that where time was once our greatest commodity, its abundance in recent years has made people think about how they want to spend it and what they want to do with it.

“Humans are, by nature, creators. But any hobby or craft takes time to master and that’s not really compatible with the immediate gratification world we live in, especially before COVID hit. But we’ve been doing things for as long as we’ve been around; it’s literally built into our evolution to enjoy these tasks.

After moving to larger premises in 2021 to accommodate growing interest, Mackinnon says Cut Throat has seen astronomical growth in interest in its classes, with sessions up to four months in advance happening. sell out within minutes of availability.

Students learn pottery at Clay Sydney, where the classes continue to grow in popularity.

Students learn pottery at Clay Sydney, where the classes continue to grow in popularity.Credit:Edwina Pickles


Bea Bellingham, a ceramic artist who teaches short courses at Clay Sydney, says much of the growing interest their studio has seen also comes down to a massive reassessment of what matters.

“Before COVID, there was a lot of emphasis on your identity as a career and there wasn’t a huge amount of self-care. Now people are starting to realize that part of self-care and having a complete identity is having hobbies and skills outside of work or Netflix or going out to eat and drink with your friends. .