The Joys and Sorrows of Love

A four week course to help us navigate the complex business of deepening and revitalising love.

Never before in human history have we expected so much of our romantic partners. We ask them to be our lovers, our best friends, our confidants, our sexual partners, the parents of our children, our adventurers, our career councillors and our therapists – all the while seeking stability and assurance from them with the occasional hit of spontaneity and excitement. It’s a lot to measure up to for anyone.

To help us navigate the joys and sorrows of love, we have drawn together the best of The School of Life curriculum into a four-week intensive course. With other curious and open-minded people, we will develop the emotional skills to explore our expectations and realities of love in our lives, and the part we play in the equation of evolving and lasting love.

Our curriculum brings the best insights of philosophy and psychology to bear on the complex emotional concerns that we face in the journey of loving another person and sharing our lives with them. Each week expert faculty will guide us through ideas and exercises designed to challenge our patterns and instincts around love and will encourage us to share our experiences and insights in an intimate, non-judgemental environment.

Part One: How To Make Love Last, Tuesday 4 February

In our first class, we learn seven core skills that underpin successful long-term relationships. We will learn:

  • How to communicate, teach and learn.
  • How to allow others to get close to us.
  • How to understand and explain our distinctive way of feeling loved.
  • How to navigate conflict.
  • How to deal with sexual differences and awkward desires. 

Part Two: Stay or Leave? Tuesday 11 February

In our second class, we will take an audit of love in general and our relationships in particular to examine the following topics:

  • How much should two people argue and how should they do it?
  • What should a partner understand about us? And what should we not expect them to grasp?
  • How do we assess our own ideas of a ‘deal-breaker’?
  • What level of sexual satisfaction is to be expected?

Part Three: A Night of Better Conversation on Sex at The Old Clare Bar, Friday 14 February

In week three we take our new insights and skills out of the classroom to enjoy an evening of adventurous conversation with other curious, open-minded people at The School of Life’s A Night of Better Conversation: Sex.

A Night of Better Conversation has been designed to help us enjoy rich and memorable conversations about things that really matter in life, inspired by the ideas of great thinkers and philosophers. The night will be broken into theory and practice. You will begin by learning a specific technique for better conversation and then invited to practice the technique with other people focusing on the theme of Sex.

Part Four: How To Enjoy Life, Tuesday 18 February

Back in the classroom for our final session, we will take all we have learned about the joys and sorrows of love and consider its role in a deeper exploration of how we live a good life:

  • The skills of appreciation and gratitude.
  • How little we sometimes notice what is around us.
  • How to awaken ourselves to the beauty and value of the things, people and ideas with which we are surrounded.
  • How to properly absorb what is already precious in our lives.
  • The art of sampling happiness without being sentimental or deluded - a skill we term ‘cheerful despair’.

TIMETABLE Part 1, 2 & 4 : Spaces, 111 Flinders Street, Surry Hills

6.15 pm     Drinks & welcome in our classroom
6.30 pm     Class begins (short break included)
9.30 pm     Class finishes 

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Love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery.
Esther Perel


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Emma Agnew is a Clinical Psychologist, originally from Scotland, who trained and worked in London, before moving to Australia. Her therapeutic work includes running creative therapy workshops in an adolescent psychiatric ward, designing and delivering  group and individual therapy in a male prison, and working in a human rights organisation with refugees. Her doctoral research centred around gang members and constructed identities.

David Joyce

David Joyce is a psychologist working in his own private practice in the inner west of Sydney. David moved to Australia from England nearly 25 years ago and has previously enjoyed stints as a professional actor, musician, film composer, and as a data analyst for several major Australian arts organisations.

David is a passionate consumer of the arts, particularly theatre and film. He is a father of two, is a keen soccer player, plays classical guitar and plans to learn the Uillean pipes.

Vashti Whitfield

Vashti Whitfield is an internationally renowned facilitator, executive coach, documentary maker, MC and global speaker.  

With over nineteen years as a highly experienced resilience, leadership and executive coach, Vashti is currently an Associate with Performance Consultants International and a Senior Associate with Coaching Australia and Coach Global, where she also sits as a member of the advisory board.

Whilst the majority of her time is spent as a performance coach, creative leadership mentor and international speaker, Vashti also works intimately as an educator, speaker and facilitator in dealing with loss, with grief and the preparation required when facing extreme adversity.

Event Partner

This event is proudly presented in partnership with The Old Clare Hotel.

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The Old Clare Hotel and The School of Life have a commitment to providing enlightened hospitality to its customers. Our shared mission is to create events and environments where meaningful connections can flourish.

Dr Tim Dean

Dr Tim Dean is a freelance philosopher and award-winning writer and teacher.

He has a Doctorate in philosophy from the University of New South Wales on the evolution of morality, and specialises in ethics, critical thinking, the philosophy of science and philosophy education. He is also an experienced science writer and was the Science & Technology Editor at The Conversation.

Tim has also edited award winning magazines such as Cosmos and Australian Life Scientist. He is an Honorary Associate in the Philosophy department at the University of Sydney and a core faculty member at The School of Life in Sydney.

He also teaches philosophy, ethics and critical thinking to children through the Primary Ethics program and in high schools around Australia. 

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The Joys and Sorrows of Love





Full price: $275
Concession: $220
+ booking fee 

Health Care Card, Seniors Card, Pensioner Concession Card and current Student Cards.

Please note that we are unable to offer refunds or transfers. If you can no longer attend this event you are welcome to share your ticket with someone else, which they can present at the door to gain entry. Please see our Terms & Conditions on Refunds, Transfers & Credits for further details.

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