Black Friday kicked in the season of shopping for bargains, gift-buying and cooking for the Christmas holiday season.

Gift-giving is such a major part of holidays in this country. Pressure to buy, buy, buy has altered the festivities from family-oriented person-to-person moments to commercial cash cows. With each passing year newer technological "toys" are made and advertised in order that we will part with our money. We're made to feel inadequate if we don't stay up with modern technology or by owning the newest gadgets. Gift-giving has gone from giving out of love to giving out of obligation and guilt.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

An alternative to plastics and plug-ins is anything geared toward human improvement. No, not a treadmill, golf clubs or a bike. I'm speaking about gifts of knowledge and culture.

I was discussing with a non-traditional student the advantages of investing in education and knowledge over trinkets. Courtesy titles can change. Job titles change. Phone and address numbers change but accomplishment titles don't. Once a degree is earned it stays with that person right through the obituary and after. Not a bad investment.

Some wonderful gifts are available at Jamestown College. If I were not teaching, I would be taking classes there right now. Here are two I would take simply because I'd like to gain the knowledge from the professors. For the spring 2011 semester, a first course in Chinese language is being offered. It's Foreign 190 Beginning Chinese, and is being offered on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2 p.m. Anyone in international business or agriculture, or who plans a trip to China, will benefit from the course.

Contact the registrar's office to sign up.

Another class I'd like to take is English 390, Advanced Creative Writing:

Patterns in Poetry. For those who have not had contact with Larry Woiwode, North Dakota's poet laureate, this then is a prime opportunity. Dr. Woiwode explained the methods he uses in the class:

"We (will) write in many of the stanza forms and patterns," he said." some of them pictorial, that poetry has taken over the course of its history. We sit around a seminar table and, in workshop format, consider the completed poems." His course will be on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

JC's writer-in-residence is also teaching a course on John Updike. It is a new offering, English 393, and you'll need to check with the registrar for times and days. Woiwode said this course covers "the latter half of the (20th century), during which time Updike produced more than 60 books on varying genres, all of high quality." He added that "The course will focus mostly on his short stories, with a peek at some poems that add to their dimension, along with time spent with a number of his notable literary essays, plus two novels -- one really a novella, quite brief," he said, adding that "this is (a) new offering and one that (he), as a lifelong follower of Updike, looks forward to (teaching) with anticipatory pleasure."

There will also be some wonderful art courses at JC this semester. A printmaking course that runs Mondays and Wednesdays during the morning hours, figure drawing taught the same days in the early evening and a sculpture class. This will also be the first year in a decade for modern art history, which is an invigorating study of international and American produced work since WWII.

In the spring, as she did over summer, Rebecca Young-Sletton plans a weekend series of graduate credit courses in Japanese culture. Those will be located in the Reiland Fine Arts Center's visual arts wing and dates for those will be announced nearer the spring. But a gift for it can be made for Christmas.

Again, the registrar needs to be contacted.

Downtown, at the Art Center, instructors offer adult and after-school art courses for children. Visual, music, dance, theater and writing classes are offered at both locations and could prove to be "that one gift" which makes a life-changing direction for the recipient. And if per-chance the student decides to add on his or her own, a degree from JC, that accomplishment will go with them forever. It never needs replacing because students who thrive on learning add to their knowledge every day.

If anyone has an item for this column, please send information to Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.