Proposed new group – The Interactive History Forum
General Theme of Group
A smallish discussion group, possibly up to 10 actively vocal participants and a further 10-20 in a listening, passive ‘audience’ type role, meeting either bi-monthly or monthly and ‘steered’ by a subject or topic leader. A separate group leader would have the role of introducing topic leaders, acting as a discussion manager, ensuring an equitable and fair distribution of comment and in maintaining subject proportionality.
Subject/topic leaders may change from one session to another, depending upon how many ‘volunteers’ there could be found from the group. The group leader would be a constant throughout all the sessions. In the absence of any volunteer subject/topic leaders the group leader would initiate the debate.
The subject/topic leader would select an historical topic that had a breadth of appeal and perhaps either some local or notable topicality, eg, WW1, and open the discussion with some framework propositions (which may or may not be accurate and may even be provocative and contentious) in order to prompt response, reaction and open discussion from the group.
The subject/topic leader is, therefore, the initiator of discussion by dropping the pebble in the pool and seeing where the ripples extend to. Leaders do not need to be academics or experts on their subject, merely interested in it and prepared to raise a few arguable statements that will ignite the debate.
The subject/topic leader’s role is not to present a catalogue of facts to be debated rather it is to open a series of ideas and thoughts about a topic so that the group can contest, support, embellish, refute, opinionate or expand upon them.
The forum isn’t intended as a platform for any one ‘knowledgeable’ individual to dominate proceedings and the group leader is tasked with maintaining some discipline, steerage and proportionality amongst respondents so that there is a genuine and equitable exchange of thoughts amongst all the group members. After all, the intention is for people to enjoy the cut and thrust of a lively debate and there is no intention to seek a definitive right or wrong answer – it is a discussion, but hopefully an enjoyably thought provoking one.
The topic could come from any era of history but generally from subject areas that people could readily connect with, i.e. not a dedicated historians deep-level perspective which could make open discussion less appealing. It would also be the initial intention to select historical topics that had a British connectivity albeit with the recognition that international perspectives played many roles in shaping our history. There would be no intention to run topics in any sort of historically chronological order.
A provisional list of topics will be published in these pages shortly.
Anyone with ideas for inclusion as discussion topics can mail me at the address below. Equally, anyone wishing to ‘volunteer’ as a subject/topic leader may make themselves known at any time !
Interested in Joining ?
There are currently around 14 expressions of interest in the group but anyone wishing to become involved – at any level – can email me at the address below. The group can be ‘officially’ joined at registration day in September (this is more to do with the new membership cards that are coming into use and which have individual serial numbers on for group leaders to record for treasury purposes). If anyone knows of folk who are not on internet/email who might be interested, please pass the word along.
Where and When ?
It’s not absolutely fixed as yet but the intention is to use the Sandbach Library’s upstairs meeting room and run between 2.00 pm and 4.00 pm on Monday afternoons – Dave Cogger’s old venue and time slot. The frequency of group meetings is fluid, possibly bi-monthly or monthly. More details will be available on registration day in September.
Contact Mike Beck