Partners in Learning program proves you don’t have to go to school to be a student
Partners in Learning Open House September 10 – 2 to 4 p.m. Southcott Pines clubhouse 519-238-5335
Looking for a way to stretch your mind and meet people with a different perspective? Perhaps Partners in Learning is the right answer for you. The group meets Wednesday afternoons at the Southcott Pines clubhouse to share ideas and learn something new. The Grand Bend Strip’s Casey Lessard sat down with some of the group’s members to discuss the program.
What’s the structure of Partners in Learning? How does it work? Cam Taylor: It’s a 10-week course run in the fall, and also in the winter. One person moderates and keeps the class in line and on topic. From there, each one of the 20-22 people in the course will do a bit of research and a presentation on an aspect of whatever the class is about. Dinah Taylor: The range of topics is as wide as your imagination, and it’s entirely up to the individual. The moderator may suggest some topics, but what tends to happen is that people will latch on to something that you would never think was part of the course. You don’t have to be a genius to do it. Some people do PowerPoint, others show pieces of paper, and others photograph albums. Everyone’s respectful; they ask questions and listen to your answers. Frances Vink: There are some people who don’t feel comfortable making a presentation. For those people, they’re not forced to do it. Don Santor: It’s a non-threatening atmosphere where people feel free to bring their experience to the topic of discussion. Dinah: This fall we have three courses, and each person can take two each semester. We’re having an open house September 10, and people can meet the moderators to talk to them about their courses. Frances: We often go on field trips. For the lighthouse course we went to Kincardine and we’ve been to the Pinery and other places.
How do you prepare for the courses? Cam: I’ll be moderating the course with Mike, and it’s such a wide topic that there are many things that can be done. First of all there are our sources of energy, how we use energy, the energy machines, the history of energy from fire to the steam engine and the boat and the airplane. There’s a lot of scope here for anyone with interest in any of those. Molly Russell: I want to present psychic energy, so that’s a different sort of thing.
Why is this important? Nancy Winters: I was going to take a course at Western. Once I had to drive there in the winter and had to drive the whole way in the left lane because it was the only one that had been plowed yet. I thought, I don’t think I can make this drive all winter. I didn’t even have to look for this. Someone told me they were doing this here, so I don’t have to risk life and limb to do it.
What has generated a lot of discussion at Partners? Frances: The Purpose and Meaning of Life, which Don Santor moderated, created a lot of interest. Molly: Then I did The Philosophy of Anything to explore some of these ideas. Frances: Courses like local history have been very interesting. Dinah: One of the first courses I took was on the history of architecture. That was fascinating because it brought in people from a wide variety of backgrounds. But every course has a personal element and you get to know the people in the course very well.
What are some topics of concern for Grand Bend that need to be addressed? Nancy: This is something we would address in Socrates Café. The group sits around and each person writes down what they want to talk about that day. The moderator lists the topics on the board and the whole group votes on the one or two issues they want to talk about. The hot button issues tend to get a lot of discussion. Molly: It’s going to be held at the Schoolhouse Restaurant on Thursdays from 2 to 4 p.m., and it runs every other week. Dinah: In the past we’ve talked about provincial funding for faith-based schools, and we had one on euthanasia, immigration, and local issues like main street development. I expect beach enhancement will be a topic this year. Mike Ash: The course I’m helping moderate on energy is going to be pretty topical. Are we heading for doom or is it all hype? Glen Russell: It’s an opportunity to deal with local issues that may never come up otherwise. Everyone can add something to these issues. Mike: Back in my university days, 80 per cent of what I learned was from the other people who were participating. This is absolutely no different. It’s a great way to go through the winter and get a little education. Cam: It helps everyone think outside of the box and take off the blinkers. Dinah: One of the best things about Partners is that you don’t get a grade. It’s like the best parts of being in school: you make friends, you have fun, have stimulating conversations, no one criticizes you for what you said, and there are no grades or tests. It’s a huge confidence booster.
My assumption is the target audience is an older audience. Dinah: The hours we meet are more suited to those who are retired and semi-retired, but we would love to have people of all ages. We’re perceived as an intellectual group, and we like to think we are, but we’re not academic. We like to think and we like to discuss things. We want people to feel that if they’ve never done things like this, there’s a place like this, too. The course I’m moderating is Hollywood. We thought it would be fun to have a course that you could look at from any aspect. There’s an endless variety of topics and they’re not all academic. This is a group that’s very welcoming and it’s wonderful to belong if you’re here in the winter; you look forward to the Wednesday and we’d like to see anyone join us.