With Stephen’s newest book ‘Come of Age: The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble’ out in the world and him on the road with ‘Nights of Grief & Mystery’, we will not be offering any new Orphan Wisdom School classes in 2019. The many persistent kindnesses and inquiries that continue to come in increase the likelihood that a new class will start next year (2020) in Ontario, Canada

To put your name on the list to be notified should new schools be announced, send us a message by selecting ‘School Registration’ using our Contact Us page form. This will subscribe you to the list of recipients who will receive an advance email notification that school registrations are open. School registrations will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Please consider attending one of the public events listed here. Should you be interested in hosting a talk where you live, do be in touch with us at contact us.

The Orphan Wisdom School is crafted specifically for all those people who will fail to live forever, who have come to the idea – or been driven there – that their yearning for a deep life must be tethered to the plough of labour and learning to harrow the hardened field of sorrows and solitary, grey news that has become our corner of this beautiful world, so that children can one day soon be born into to a real, detailed, laboured over Better Day that we ourselves are now unlikely to see. Because none of this can be done in weekend workshops or homeless conference centres, we ask that you commit yourselves to what we call learning in real time, to gathering together for five days, twice a year, for two years, as a start. It is the same commitment I make to you, irrevocable and faithful, and it binds us honourably to crafting a better day from our bewilderment and bedraggled dreams. As always, that bewilderment and those dreams are welcome. The programme for graduates continues beyond this two year introduction.

The learning and the teaching will be part history, all culture, mostly spirit, hugely ancestral, very local, ultimately practicable and hand made, each time about living, working and dying, purposefully delivered and achieved together in the belief that the rudiments of being a true, life serving village person lay waiting for water and light in all of us. If you stay with it long enough your hands will know as much as you will, and even your consternation will be articulate.

Whatever you have read or heard about the Orphan Wisdom School, that and your own many wonders and longings for a saner place in which to plant the little banner of dreams for your coming days will end up having to be reason and information enough by which you’ll wrangle your decision about attending. There’ll be no other descriptions beyond the ones on the Orphan Wisdom site, no other reading lists or prospecti sent out. No allegations about what you’ll learn or become. No certificate. It isn’t much with which to make your call, I’ll grant you, but fool’s gold is a description of something that hasn’t happened yet, something that would be changed in an instant by your decision to attend.

It is a school that requires no previous experience with living people, dying people or dead people – though you do have experience with all of them – and no particular employment, religion, educational standard or way of life. It is open to every shape, persuasion, style, language and hue of person with a heart inclined for opening and learning. Each of us deserve the chance to learn something deep, alive, human, urgent and mandatory. This is at the heart of the Orphan Wisdom School.

Would that our endangered and dangerous days be remembered, years from now, as a time when some gathered and rose up and, truant no more, learned their lives. That is where our learning together will begin to be tethered to something vast and thrilled and burdened with purpose.


Dates Session Name Registration Location Status
2020 New Orphan Wisdom School – Ontario Class – 1/4 Add Your Name to the Notification List Ottawa Valley, ON, Canada First of Four Sessions – Open to New Scholars
Date TBD Big Tent Registration TBD Ottawa Valley, ON, Canada Graduate Scholars Only – Closed to New Scholars
May 24th to May 28th, 2020 Those Come From Away 4/4 Learn More Wales, United Kingdom Closed to New Scholars
Date TBD New Graduate Class – 2nd Gathering Registration TBD Ottawa Valley, ON, Canada Graduate Scholars Only – Closed to New Scholars

Contact us with questions.