Hindsight is a great thing…and now that most of us are clever grown-ups we know that all that education which we often begrudgingly immersed ourselves in throughout childhood and adolescence, really was an invaluable learning experience.
I don’t know about you, but I often wistfully wish that I could go back to those days of endless, focused, knowledge-gaining, which, later in life, seems to allude us. Caught up as we are in progressing careers, paying mortgages, raising children and looking after ageing parents, there never seems to be the time nor the opportunity to learn for learning’s sake and create space for creativity and innovation, which would be invaluable both personally and professionally.
I have a dream to go back to University to do all those subjects I didn’t undertake because they weren’t suitable electives for my degree, but which I would have really found immensely more riveting than some of the other dubious classes I sat through. Just like Steve Jobs, who, out of pure interest, took a calligraphy course in his youth, which came to be so essential when developing the fonts for the first Macintosh computer; or JK Rowling, who pursued creative writing in her own time, due to her parents’ disapproval of undertaking an English degree, which eventually fuelled her passion for writing what was to become the fastest selling book series of all time.
But of course, I was a beneficiary of the Labor-inspired ‘free University’ period, lived at home with my parents and easily found part-time work to fund my social activities (alas how I wasted my youth!) whereas now I have to pay in time, money and effort for the privilege to learn, which seems so elusive and indulgent.
Or is it?
Education is a lifelong pursuit and we shouldn’t be afraid to allow ourselves the time and luxury of gaining knowledge and indulging in creative endeavours which could be of enormous benefit to us individually, as well as to our families, colleagues, friends and employers.
You see, I have found my nirvana – the opportunity to attend classes, watch inspirational videos, bury myself in books and articles written by wise experts much more intelligent and informed than myself, have titillating conversations with people whose lives seem so much more interesting and challenging than mine, immerse myself in the culture of other places, and all the while learn not only new and worthwhile things, and inspire creativity and innovation, but go even deeper into the meaning of life and all its challenges.
So, what is this place I hear you say?
Well, it’s called The School of Life (TSOL), and it’s literally right at your fingertips. Started by philosopher Alain de Botton in the UK, there are now TSOL campuses all over the world (including our very own Melbourne in Australia), as well as online resources. TSOL offers a public program of seminars and workshops, as well as customised programs for corporates and other groups. Topics cover the most important aspects of modern life: work, love, self, home, community, meaning and culture, and classes are attended by other curious, sociable and like-minded people keen to explore the deeper meaning of life.
I recently attended a seminar whilst visiting Melbourne and found it interesting, engaging and useful. The groups are mostly small and the seminars are usually hosted at The School of Life campus in the city, in a quirky and intimate room, alongside a well-resourced bookshop and cafe serving suitably wholesome and delicious food.
If you live outside Melbourne and can’t attend classes on a regular basis, then there are always the online options, or, if you feel you would benefit from interacting with other like-minded people, then you can join the Evvoke – Six Senses in Six Days tour to Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula from 9-16 January (or in July 2016), which encompasses The School of Life EQ Intensive (a week of seminars, workshops and networking), as well as boutique accommodation, dining at some of Melbourne’s most iconic restaurants, and a tour of the Mornington Peninsula wine region.
So, there really is no excuse not to pursue your passion for learning, to ignite your potential for creativity and innovation, or merely give you a greater clarity and sense of purpose in your life and career!
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