2020 won't be remembered as the best of years. Nevertheless, we have all made some valuable discoveries in the face of this anxious and turbulent time. Key life lessons we can take with us into 2021 and beyond, as well as look forward to developing further at Marlborough College Summer School.
1. The loving support of our family and friends
With so many of us separated from our friends and loved ones, social media and video calling has become increasingly central to keeping in touch at a safe distance. If you're still feeling mystified by this digital world, Susan Grossman's course, Social Media for the Terrified (263) will offer you easy steps into unfamiliar waters. When you can't be together, photos can also speak a thousand words, so why not improve your digital photography skills? Develop An Eye for a Good Picture (269) with Brian Anderson, learn how to Make Your Photos Pop! (264/265) thanks to Steve Russell or enjoy some Fun with iPhone and iPad (251) alongside Nigel Wattis.
As we appreciate more than ever the power of family connection, perhaps you've been wondering about your roots? Michelle Smith will help you to start building your own family tree on Family History for Beginners (357), or for those who are already familiar with birth, marriage and death certificates, census returns and parish registers, Family History: The Next Steps (358) will allow you to delve deeper into the lives of your ancestors.
2. The importance of our mental and physical health
In the words of Maura Barber-Oosterhuis' aptly named course, this year we've realised The Importance of Self-Care (303) and allowing ourselves a dose of compassion as an essential part of wellbeing, both physically and mentally. Counselling Skills: An Introduction to Helping Yourself and Others (362) by Dr Sophia Thomson is invaluable. In just five mornings, you can learn how to provide the time and space to explore and understand problems, and work to resolve or come to terms with the problems life is posing.
Meanwhile, if you'd like help with cooking everyday healthy, yet delicious recipes turn to Lucinda Bevan's Nutritional Cooking with Love Food (344/345). There are also a wealth of courses to help you improve your fitness, but if Fit Camp (271-274) or Swim and Gym (371-374) sound a bit serious for your liking, how about some Dance Through the Musicals (247) instead? Annabel Brash's dance class promises feel-good exercise that will help you get your musical theatre fix too.
3. The value of financial security
The pandemic has also brought finance to the fore, and for many, underlined that money you can save today, may help save you tomorrow. If you would like a better return on your savings and a greater understanding of how the stock market operates, then choose Margaret English's Picking Winners: An Introduction to Financial Investment (354/355).
4. The sanctuary of our homes and gardens
Needing to stay home to stay safe has helped us fully appreciate having a roof over our heads and, if you're really lucky, your own garden too. We've had more time to focus care and attention on our homes, but also looked at them differently as they've become increasingly multifunctional spaces for living, working, exercising and schooling. During her course, Declutter for Good with the KonMari Method™ (361), Andie Bright promises to help you get on top of the clutter and achieve a calming, joyful home. Meanwhile, if you are looking for the know-how and inspiration to completely transform your décor, don't miss An Introduction to Interior Design (356) by Jenny Quinlan.
For green-fingers, both experienced and new, Patricia Rowell's courses titled Gardens with Style (108) and More Glorious Gardens (114) provide a fantastic opportunity to visit a selection of stunning gardens and gain advice and inspiration to take back to your own.
5. The relationship between us and the natural world
Whether in our own back garden or during our daily walks, we've been taking more note of wildlife and finding comfort in our natural surroundings. Wild Science: Understanding Nature (258) by Nigel Brown will aid your appreciation of everything from garden birds and their behaviour, plants and the ecology of their pollinators, to fungi and their pivotal role in the ecosystem. While Mankind Versus the Planet (611) aims to provide a scientific background to some natural events, that have affected the human race and the biosphere. Tutor, Alan Oliver will also discuss the influence that mankind is now having on the planet's environment.
6. The power of community
From volunteers delivering essential supplies, shop local initiatives to Clapping for Carers, the pandemic has helped bring communities closer together. John Whyte-Venables will show you how you can enjoy Telling Community Stories with Smartphone Video (253) and shine a light on the various characters and stories in your local area. He will also offer a course dedicated to Promoting Arts & Crafts with Smartphone Video (250) and give you the tools to create attractive, informative and affordable videos to share on the web and social media.
7. The skill of embracing change
Over the past few months, we've all had to re-adjust to a 'new normal' and draw on our emotional resilience, and young people are no exception. Hugo Shephard has created Building Resilience to Thrive in Life (623/624) to help Young Adventurers aged 9 to 12 years face challenges, handle mistakes, deal with adversity and thrive in an ever changing world.
8. The need to slow down, take a breath and reflect
Many of us have realised in Lockdown that we don't need to be constantly busy and have been reaping the benefits of a gentler pace of life. Christine Browne will help you explore Relaxation, Meditation and Mindfulness (302), equipping you with strategies to apply in everyday life and help you manage stress. Furthermore, Paul Chapman espouses the benefits of a slower pace when it comes to art appreciation. A Bigger Picture (193) will provide you with the opportunity to stop and think about what 10 iconic images reveal.
9. The joy of anticipation and looking forwards
Finally, finding ourselves in a less than ideal present, has shown that having something to focus on in the future can help provide the motivation, help and persistence to keep moving forwards even during a tough time. Whether it's simply planning a nice dinner that evening, or a larger reward further ahead such as a summer holiday, it's important to build healthy anticipation into our lives. So, just in case you needed another reason to book for Summer School 2021, we all need something to look forward to!