Review: Classes at the School of Life

Back in 2010, I went along to a class at The School of Life and spent an evening pondering what types of work I would enjoy. It was interesting focusing on tasks, workplace environments and types of careers in a way that I hadn’t done since school – looking at what might be fulfilling rather than what you ‘should’ do. Seven years later (perhaps the seven year itch applies to jobs too?), I returned to attend an evening class in the revamped School of Life core curriculum – a session entitled How to Identify Your Career Potential. I was instantly won over by the description of this class on the website:

Many of us have a strong (and sometimes maddening) feeling that there is a job out there that could properly satisfy us, allowing us to develop our potential and talent. But we may remain troublingly vague about what exactly this ideal job might be – and what our talents and interests really are. We feel the clock ticking mercilessly, and are always under pressure to earn money and secure status. We tend to suffer this dilemma in private, feel ashamed of doing so, and wonder whether progress can ever be made.

School of Life, Marchmont Street, LondonI signed up for the session, popped it in my diary and then headed to the School of Life’s HQ on Marchmont Street after work when the day came. The place appeared strangely empty though, apart from one person stood behind the desk. As the ground floor shop area had been used for the pre-class drinks and nibbles last time, I worried that I had misread the time and the session had already started! I double-checked the time and headed in.

It turned out that the pre-class mingling now happens in the basement room where the workshop takes place so I wasn’t late after all. This change of location is much better as it means you can grab a spot and dump your stuff first, rather than chatting to strangers whilst attempting a balancing act with wine glass, nibbles and a bag. I found a spare seat, popped my handbag down, and then went to get myself a drink. The session was run by David Waters, who was busily introducing himself to attendees as I arrived, so I said hello before returning to my seat and introducing myself to the person sat next to me.

The core curriculum sessions now all involve a workbook full of small useful activities, and a presentation with short videos which ties it all together. David guided us through all the activities – some we thought about alone, some built on previous answers, and others involved talking to someone next to you – and provided assistance if required. This meant that the session felt far more practical than the one I did in 2010, with plenty of exercises to continue afterwards and some extremely useful notes to take away. It felt like we covered a lot in 2.5 hours and I kept on thinking about it (and filling in the rest of my workbook) on the way home.

This class is designed to work well with two other core curriculum sessions on skills relating to work – How to be Confident and How to Fail – and also links in with a session called How to Develop Self-Knowledge. You can sign up for these one at a time for 55 each (becoming a Friend to get a slightly discounted rate for future sessions) or, if you have more cash to spare, you could enrol on their study programme to do all the classes, get all the books, free entry to events, plus some therapy sessions. If you’ve ever wanted to learn ‘how to live wisely and well’, it’s definitely worth checking out the classes and workshops offered by The School of Life.

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