My Nan always told me I’d learn everything I needed at the School of Life — turns out she may well be right. The School of Life is London’s newest and much-needed establishment, teaching classes on the vital life lessons that school deemed unworthy. You won’t find arithmetic or onomatopoeias here, but classes that develop your emotional intelligence. Yes, it sounds a little bit free-thinking and ego-rubbing for some, but hear it out and see what it offers. You’d be surprised by just how much you don’t know.
It comes as no surprise that work features highly in their core curriculum. What else causes such stress and worry? For those looking for more than just a paycheck, take a look at the ‘How to find a job you love’ course. This comes in either an intensive two day course or single evening sessions. The class is designed to find out what we really want from our careers. It looks at influencing factors from family to personality, and what ‘meaning’ truly entails.
Another one that strikes a nerve is ‘How to manage stress’. Stress comes from all walks of life, but we always like to blame work first. The School of Life, however, looks at how we are biologically predisposed toward stress and how to overcome that hurdle, as well as quieting those unhelpful inner thoughts.
‘Cultivate resilience at work’ isn’t a class we would have come up with, but now it’s here we want in. How able are you to withstand and recover from dilemmas and situations? How difficult is it to take criticism and failure and carry on? This class looks at risk-taking, uncertainty, taking control and how adversity is never far away. Life rarely goes according to plan, but TSoL is here to help reframe the very idea of failing.
Ahh, the biggest minefield of all. People have been trying to learn about love for centuries, often without much luck. All of us have been guilty of blaming the other party for what goes wrong, while some only blame themselves. The School of Life tackles it all, covering a whole range of issues that we face daily and can often handle badly. Classes like ‘How to move on from a relationship’ are applicable to just about everyone.
‘How to make love last’ looks at how romantic love is always seen as time-limited. Rather than seeing love as a happy, passionate accident, TSoL suggests there are learnable skills to ensuring the flame doesn’t flicker out. Communication, tolerance, disappointment, self-understanding, compromise, humour and above all, learning to be together and separate at the same time are all explored.
You’d imagine ‘How necessary is a relationship’ to be just for singles, but boy do we all need it. Finding out whether love is worth it for you and whether you need it to be happy is what this event is all about. It looks at societal expectations, philosophy, literature and learning to adjust ourselves to another. It’s a class that improves anyone, single or not.
TSoL is all about bettering you, enlightening and increasing your emotional intelligence. But while many classes deal with external issues, some take a long hard look at you alone. How to be creative, realise your potential, converse better, stay calm, be decisive, deal with conflict… The list goes on and every single person will find something that speaks to them. Balancing life and work is incredibly appropriate for Londoners and if you’re feeling really philosophical, sign up to ‘Why you are who you are’. Our favourite class, and the most commonly sold out, is the rather morbid ‘How to face death’. It’s an inevitability that we’re never prepared for at school: until now. And hey, if none of these work out and you feel more lost than ever in this turbulent world, why not simply learn how to change it instead?
Outside of their core curriculum, The School of Life provides one-to-one therapy, business workshops and a shop that screams thoughtful Christmas gifts for the whole family. Their special events bring in all manner of celebrities talking on subjects such as philosophy, greed, sanity and optimism. The School was founded by philosopher Alain de Boton and Sophie Howarth, a former Tate curator. The curriculum was created by artists, writers, philosophers, journalists, photographers and experts from all walks of life.
For the first time ever, we’re actually excited to go back to school. Check out their classes at http://www.theschooloflife.com/london/ or drop into the shop and classroom at 70 Marchmont Street, near Russel Square.