Knitting, DJing, book binding: Learn, or teach, anything at Skillshare


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Poet William Mark talks about the role of consonants and alliteration in poetry, and he uses “Leaves of Grass” to demonstrate his points. It feels like a college seminar, but the class is just $10 and takes place in the back of the cavernous downtown shop the Last Bookstore. Mark’s students signed up through Skillshare, an online listing of classes that can be anywhere. (That’s Mark pictured here, left, with student Robert Cotton on a Saturday afternoon this month.)

Skillshare intends to “democratize education” by capitalizing on people’s curiosity to learn and on their passion to share what they know. The peer-to-peer approach focuses on creative classes that are not easy to find elsewhere. So don’t look for aerobics, language or yoga classes.


The students can be any age, people who want to start a business or try something altogether new, says Danya Cheskis-Gold, Skillshare’s community manager. Teachers, too, might be people who want to build their experiences toward a job.

The staff at Skillshare, which began in 2011, will help novice teachers with course descriptions, pricing decisions and other logistics. Anyone can offer a class anywhere, Cheskis-Gold says.

In Los Angeles, sites include a new Arts District club called the Hub, a place where people seeking social change get together. Nationally, Skillshare has taught thousands of students; a few months ago the total was around 6,000, Cheskis-Gold says.

The bookstore is designed to be a place with peer-to-peer activities, so Skillshare was a good fit, Mark says. Other classes there have included book binding, DJing and Introduction to Knitting and Other Lessons in Patience. Classes at the store have each cost $10; the average cost of Skillshare classes is about $20.

Cheskis-Gold teaches in New York; one of her classes is ... how to teach a class.


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-- Mary MacVean