Friday, October 3, 2008

Interested In Starting A Colloquium?...

We have been asked on a few occasions how to start a colloquium group. After running the Provo Area Leadership Mentoring Society (PALMS) for the past year, I think I might have some suggestions that could be helpful to anyone wanting to establish such a group but really does not know where to begin. These are ideas not necessarily given in order of importance.

The word colloquium was alien to my brain until two years ago. It took me a while to wrap my tongue around this word. Here is a link to hear the word and a general definition is below.
n 1: an academic meeting or seminar usually led by a different
lecturer and on a different topic at each meeting
2: an address to an academic meeting or seminar
[also: colloquia (pl)]
After our first month, we published guidelines for the group. You may want to come up with some ideas of general respect that should be offered by all in attendance.

Next I will list the things we do that seems to help our group.

1. Create a schedule on-line. I think it helps to look somewhat professional. See our PALMS site.

2. Advertising is key to getting people to come. We started with our homeschool community websites and asked people to share the information. I think the library is a great place to post your announcement also.

We attended a small colloquium for about a year prior to starting our own. It was easier to start ours from the experience we had there. You may not be able to go to another group so be patient with yourself and learn as you go along.
One thing we really wanted to provide was an environment that would allow both mom and dad to attend, to read together and share learning together.

3. We provide two babysitters. At this point we don't ask for any money. The time may come and I think everyone who attends would be willing to give a dollar or two.

4. We like to provide something to eat. My husband is the bread maker in our family. We provide fresh whole wheat bread, and water to drink. I think it would be fun to have popcorn. You can ask members to bring something, we try to keep this easy for everyone who comes.

5. The children who come (10 is average), stay down stairs. They need to be far enough away to not disturb the meeting with their laughter and fun. At first I allowed movies to be played. We don't do that anymore since the running time is about 70 minutes the babysitters can actually play with the kids, do crafts that I leave for them and read lots of books during our meeting time.

6. We meet every week for one hour of actual discussion time. Often families stay up to 30 minutes later talking about life which helps with fellowshipping. I would love to have other adults who are seeking greater self directed learning who do not homeschool but right now everyone who is attending also happens to be educating their children at home.

7. Where to hold your colloquium is important. Your home, someone else's, the library, a college campus. You want to provide comfort not crampedness, and always have fresh air. A hot room leads to sleepiness.

8. Our reading list is strongly influenced by the 5 Pillar Program at George Wythe University. Almost all of us who currently attend (our average is 12 people) have a desire to read classical works of literature. We think this is a good place to start and it's your group so you can decide where you want to go with it anyway.

9. I and my husband decided the first quarter readings. Once we saw the make up of the group we now ask for suggestions for books. Often there is a lot I end up filling in and I turn to the list from the 5 pillars to help me.

10. One week each month we hold a government discussion: currently we are doing the Federalist and Anti-federalist Papers. One week is an article of some sort. The other two weeks are books for the most part. One book is small the other larger. But really you need to read over our schedule to see the flow of things.
We do did not meet during December last year but we will meet the first to week this December. We want to finish the Federalist papers in January. During the past summer we meet twice a month.

11. Guest speakers are a fun way to invite others to attend for the evening. We have at lest one guest lecturer each quarter. This quarter it will be two because someone is available who has a busy schedule and I don't want to pass her by. We have hosted 40+ people at a given lecture in our home. We try to provide speakers who will meet the needs of the homeschool community and or leadership development.

12. We provide everyone with the opportunity to be the facilitator for an evenings discussion. The key we use to get people to do this is a fresh loaf of bread to take home. That probably helped in the beginning but now everyone realizes that being the leader of a colloquium discussion is good experience even when you have to come out of your comfort zone.

13. Strive to develop your listening skills. Be in the present moment listening to who is talking. Don't think about what you want to say next just listen and feel. Boy this is a hard one for me but I think it's worth the development to let everyone know that they are important and what they say is valuable even if I don't understand it all.

I like hosting this colloquium in our home because it means we have to be ready every week. It's not always easy. But then again seeking and gaining knowledge is not intended as a simple procedure either. After a year of meeting on a regular bases I find that I like these people. I wasn't sure in the beginning.

I highly encourage you to take the first steps to create a colloquium in your neighborhood. Maybe you start with your church group and your immediate neighbors. However, if you build it and people come, then you will inspire someone else to try and that's a good thing.

My two cents for what it's worth...

1 comment:

Dezra Helgeson said...

Thanks, Nickie, this helps a great deal. I am glad to hear that yours is going so well. Oh, how I wish we lived nearer you!