In the NOW: The School of Life Amsterdam

TheSchoolOfLife_PRESSONLY_20140423_04If you’re not familiar with the books of philosopher Alain de Botton, don’t worry. The whole reason why De Botton founded The School of Life (TSOL) in 2008 was to take his books and ideas a step further, and among real life people. I am very glad he did, because with his sense of humor this philosopher makes his field of expertise a lot more tangible. 
De Botton wanted to bring his ideas -and those of others- to life through a place where people can gather and discuss those ideas. In the philosopher’s words: “A living resource that you can go to.” How lucky are we to have such a resource in Amsterdam now!

I first came across Alain de Botton when I did some research for an article about work and the way society has looked at work differently over the past centuries. With regards to TSOL, I can tell you now, this is only one of the many topics that can be discussed there. Other examples are:

How to be in a relationship (or not)

How to have better conversations

How to find a job you love

How to be more creative

Amsterdam is not the first place where The School of Life has a campus: back in 2008 it all started in London; Paris and Melbourne have followed that example more recently. But, with regards to the Amsterdam campus, De Botton made the Dutch a compliment in his opening speech. According to him, this city’s culture already has a way of making it normal for people to ask questions about life – where in other culture’s you’re not supposed to talk about that at all. However, according to TSOL Amsterdam’s initiators Peter van Duinen and Laurens Knoop, the city still lacked a place where people were assisted in finding answers to life’s issues and questions. Hence, they joined forces and started TSOL Amsterdam.


In case you’re still wondering whether TSOL is suitable for you to, I can reassure you it most likely is. TSOL does not hang on to a specific thought, teaching or dogma. On the contrary, it tries to combine as many different thoughts and ideas (art, literature, politics, etc.) as possible in its classes! The School of Life focuses on asking the right questions, which definitely makes a difference when you’re looking for answers (!), and on sharing as much knowledge as possible. A consequence of this way of “teaching” is that new classes are added to the programme on a regular basis. That way, there really is room for everyone to find a topic of interest. To make these classes even more attractive -especially for the Dutch- they cost €38,- and take about 3 hours (per class). Oh, and did I mention TSOL Amsterdam is on Herengracht 215, which is right in the city’s centre?

To have an idea of Alain de Botton’s humor-drenched style of speech, check this video of one of his TED talks:

For more information, and to book a class, go to the website of TSOL Amsterdam.

Text: Pauline Siebers


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