The School of Life

Alain de Botton

The School of Life



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Everyone should read The School of Life: An Emotional Education, at least once. Whilst recognising the importance of traditional education, philosopher Alain de Botton stresses the key role of emotional education in the lives of children and young adults. He believes that emotional education is the only way for human beings to learn to manage the ups and downs of life. By highlighting the limitations of rational thinking, de Botton shows the reader how emotions such as anger, disappointment, and shame can keep us trapped, unless we learn to identify them so as to break free. He argues that emotional education should become a permanent fixture on all school curricula, in order to help us learn to better navigate human relationships, and more importantly, to manage the relationship we have with ourselves.

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Analysis and key concepts


The importance of education geared towards emotions as well as logic


Educating the self gives us the tools to deal with life’s events in a more mature manner


Past wounds must be healed if a person is to enjoy healthy relationships


Emotional intelligence can also be helpful in the workplace


Culture can be a catalyst for change




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Consider the important role emotions have to play in defining our reality.
  • Take a closer look at emotions and how they affect us.
  • Understand just how much a good understanding of our emotions can help us become more serene and resilient.

Alain de Botton is a Swiss-born philosopher and author. Having received his education in England, English became his first language, and he went on to graduate with a BA in history at the University of Cambridge, followed by a MPhil in Philosophy at King’s College, London. His books have sold millions of copies and have been translated into many different languages. Among his best sellers are Essays in Love, How Marcel Proust Can Change Your Life, The Consolations of Philosophy, The Importance of Being, and The Art of Traveling. In 2008, he founded the School of Life with a team of philosophers in London, a training school that challenges traditional universities, directing their teaching more towards a grounding in knowledge for real life, and away from knowledge for its own sake.

Publishing house:

The School of Life