For the first part of class this week, we discussed the dos and don’ts of book clubs. We made some important points on both ends of the spectrum, and several that I hadn’t thought of before. I think one that stuck with me on the Do This! side was having a plan for blurters/rude people/interrupters/etc. I’ve worked with the public for several years now, but every once in awhile, someone still shocks me with how they act, and being in an environment where you, as the “leader” (bad word, I know…perhaps guide or host?), is responsible for having a fun and productive environment, you need to have contingency plans for situations that may arise. Are you going to be able to anticipate every situation? Of course not. But there will be ones that are pretty common; so, you have to think…how do I handle a person that dominates a conversation? How do I handle someone that is constantly interrupting another? How do I handle a person that rudely responds to another’s opinion? I know for me, thinking about these hypothetical situations makes me a lot less nervous about doing a book club. (Side note: the fact that we had to put “Read the book” on the Do This! side makes me sad…although I can believe it, I still am disappointed that there are those who host a book club and don’t read the book.) On the Not This! side, I wanted to clap when someone brought up tipping well if you host it in a restaurant. I had a waitress friend tell me one time she had a book club take up four tables for three hours and she barely got a tip from them. It’s very inconsiderate (and people will dislike you…it’s just a fact). I think another good point we brought up is not making people feel guilty for not reading the book; although you should, sometimes people have bad months or weeks where reading a book for book club is low on the priority list. Also, sometimes, like we said, the book club isn’t about the book; it’s about the camaraderie that comes with it. We should definitely be sensitive to that.
We also discussed how to craft discussions/questions for book clubs. I’m definitely glad for a little overview because I’ve never hosted a book club, so it’s advantageous to see what good book club questions look like. I think a really intriguing part of the question process is asking something you as the host is curious about and may not know the answer. I’m like a lawyer; I don’t ask a question in that sort of situation unless I already know the answer (9th grade Debate class probably doesn’t help with that). But it most definitely makes sense in a book club setting to ask a question you don’t know the answer to because you’re going to get diverse and unique answers and perspectives. For the piece Mollie and I chose, we purposefully chose one that could have different sides, and so I’m really curious to see what people think. I think something I’m going to have a hard time with is not answering our own questions because the articles are about a topic I’m passionate about, so it’s going to take some restraint on my part!
For the second part of class, we had our own Socratic Seminar about the Prensky article. I love being in circles for discussions, and I think we had a really great conversation. I still greatly dislike Prensky’s view, and I was pleasantly surprised when the first conversation point broached was on whether or not it was a satire piece because I wrote in my post about how I thought it was from The Onion for its black-and-white stance. It was interesting to get to hear everyone’s point-of-view. Socratic Seminars are familiar to me, but I think the size of the group kept this from being a true Socratic Seminar. Having a smaller group enables everyone to talk more than once. However, I realize we had limitations on time, so it makes sense to do it with our one big group.
At any rate, I’m excited to see what class brings next week with our book clubs!