Time Out Melbourne

Philosopher Alain de Botton founded the School of Life in London in 2008 and has now opened it first international campus in Collingwood 

With individual classes bookable now for $50 each, we suggest you check out the School of Life summer term now. Intrigued, we asked founder Alain de Botton to tell us the idea behind the school's genesis.

Alain, why choose Melbourne as the first international school?
In London, half of our classes are filled with Australians. We're not sure why. We have theories of course. Australians are part of a new world, they want new answers, they are curious, they are open, they are ready to try new things. In any case, as you can imagine, we love them. So it was natural to think of opening a branch in Australia. For a long time, it was just a dream, until we were approached by the lovely people from Small Giants, a social enterprise that makes great things happen. They offered to set up and run the school for us and we were thrilled. As they're based in Melbourne, that's where it's happening.

What do the alumni get out of it?
We don't offer qualifications, you drop into the School for the best of reasons: not money, not fame, not status, but for yourself. So people go back to their lives – on a good day –subtly but importantly changed.

How hands on are you with the School?
I gave the School its initial push and have been steering it, but I'm not hands-on in delivering the classes. We have a really able team in London and Melbourne. Small Giants found a terrific set of people. Australia has a huge talent pool in the area of emotional knowledge and instruction.

As for the teachers, how do you track down an expert on matters like life, love and death?
At first it was hard, but now, they come to us. Anyone out there who feels tempted to come and teach, let us know at our website.

Are any class subjects particularly close to your heart?
The two topics that dominate the School are Work and Love. These are the two questions we always come back to, in one form or another.

Updated on 23 Dec 2012.

By Jenny Valentish   |  
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