image from the School of Life
We've passed the store front and wondered what it was--a quiet looking shop, with not much inside on a leafy street . But as we learned, there is not much inside because it is all in the mind. It's adult education with a sense of style; geared for everyday living. The "school" offers lectures, individual programmes and speakers on "how to live wisely and well." It covers the big issues of life: love, politics, work, family, play.
The courses have been put together by some of the leading writers, artists, philosophers and academics that London has to offer. They are short, for the modern busy person, either a weekend, or a one-off or a few weeks in a row. Students can attend a Sunday morning "sermon" on topics such as punctuality, pessimism, seduction or humour. If lack of a decent social life is getting you down, go to a dinner where diners are given a specially-designed conversation menu to help you get the most from talking to a stranger.
Started by a woman who was looking for a place where you could go to think seriously about life, Sophie Howarth has created a social enterprise for the mind. It's a private but open-doored university where one can take courses, read books and even travel in new ways. There was a weekend trip with famous photographer Martin Parr teaching photography for a weekend on the Isle of Wight. In April, an urban gardening day-long course will include the famed Guerilla Gardener, Richard Reynolds. Part of the day will be spent transforming a neglected public space into a new little garden.
A one-off meeting with a free-lance expert will allow you to pursue a burning question or an area of expertise that only a pro can answer. Bibliotherapists will provide a tailor-made reading list for any area that you would like some books to shed light on. Maybe set up a reading list for six months about a particular topic. In January they are offering a course on "How to be Optimistic"--what a way to start the new year. The School of Life