Home Study
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    “Home Study,” Ensign, Dec. 1983, 63

    “Home Study”

    Many of us enjoy “how-to” classes such as cake decorating, sewing, knitting, and furniture refinishing. But it’s often expensive to pay tuition and purchase needed equipment for such classes. So, wanting to learn a new skill but having limited finances, a group of friends and I tried the “home study” approach to learning—in this instance, cake decorating. One of the participants donated her kitchen for our project, and we agreed on a day and time for our weekly class, which would meet eight times.

    One person in our group was designated chairman. She presented each participant with a class schedule, based on the chapter titles of a fairly inexpensive book ($2.95) on cake decorating found at a local bookstore.

    Each class member was encouraged to purchase the book, and was then assigned to teach a different chapter or chapters, as needed. Other books and manuals were borrowed from the library.

    Four people in the area who already knew how to decorate cakes agreed to serve as “resource persons.” The class member who was teaching could call on these individuals if she needed advice on a certain technique.

    Each of us obtained at least the most basic decorating equipment from a local kitchen supply store. Because the order was large enough, we received a discount on our purchase. We found it important to practice at home, and to bring our successes or failures to class. (Yes, our failures. We often learned how to do something right by doing it wrong the first time.)

    On the whole, the class was rated a whopping success. Working as friends in a group, we were able to laugh at our mistakes, give sincere encouragement, and boost one another’s confidence. We shared our creativity, and, in the end, all of us were able to turn out nice-looking cakes for our families and friends. One of the participants became so skillful that she went on to teach for the local parks department and is in continual demand to decorate cakes for weddings and birthdays.

    We saved money, too. The class cost us only the materials. Transportation expenses were minimal, because we all lived within a few miles of each other.

    We are convinced that this approach to learning at home can be used for developing many different skills. Attending free workshops, and consulting books, pamphlets, “send for” instructions, and resource persons at local stores are all possible starting points. Barbara Starkey, Lacey, Washington

    Illustrated by Michael O. Rogan