Alongside the insurgence of people trawling the Internet for mindless, idiotic memes is an increase in individuals craving serious content and advice. Melbourne’s answer has been a series of long and short term institutions set up to give a bit of insight into life and living.


The School of Life was established in London by a disillusioned Alain de Botton after he felt that his experience of university sowed the seeds for job applications rather than inquisitive thought. The organisation was invited over by Small Giants and have been shacked up in Collingwood for the past month. Events sold out almost immediately and the program, which is set to run until the end of March, only has a few spaces left gleaming. Seminars give advice on vague but intriguing topics like How To Make Love Last, Have Better Conversations, Be Creative and Use Art As Therapy. The space consists of a mini lecture hall with paste-ups by Miso, a Readings book-store holding equally as insightful texts, a food van and outdoor cafe.


The School of Life hopes to bring people out of the tendency to chat only about the social minutia of their lives, expand their minds a little and question constantly. Perched on every table is a ‘conversation menu’ which encourages diners to ask each other questions like ‘at what age did you stop being a child?’. The School of Life’s neighbours, The Centre for Everything, seems like a similar concept until you read some of the event descriptions. Bat Talk, Night Soup and Romance took a group on Valentine’s Eve to the Yarra Bend, equipped with Anabat ultrasonic detectors, to listen to nightlife and nibble on bread and soup. If it were not for their quirky van-diagrams, we wouldn’t know how their themes fit together.


Another ongoing program celebrating one of Melbourne’s most adored assets is Laneway Learning. Some of their sold out workshops this month are: An Introduction To Raw Food, Money-Saving, Bicycle Maintenance and The Infinite Possibilities Of Modular Origami. Classes are run out of The People’s Market and Little Mule cafe in the city. They are also very cheap, run by members of the community and aim to help you build on an ability you never knew you had.

So despite the popular theory that Gen Y has no interest in getting involved or expanding their skills and minds, they’re the main supporters of a series of big ideas. Still, it is predominantly under 30’s filling seats and riding the undercurrent of academia that is beginning to surface.

The School of Life
$50-$100 for events and cheap books
Cnr of Oxford and Peel St, Collingwood

The Centre for Everything
Usually $8
Various locations around Collingwood and inner Melbourne

Laneway Learning
Prices starting from $12
Little Mule cafe, 19 Somerset Place, Melbourne

Photos by Hannah Bambra

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