We seek brain-aching, adrenalin-rushing, higher-level, small-group discussion on philosophy, psychology, politics, science and culture (but not faith-based positions). We seek fascinating online talks or pieces of writing to share and discuss. Discussion leaders post details of the topic for discussion and also keep the dialogue on track. Members are free to organise their own meetups for the group. We meet at quiet venues in inner Melbourne close to public transport. Please be aware that inactive memberships automatically lapse after two months.
If higher-level brain ache appeals to you, please join us!
Brain-ache meetups run as communities of inquiry, the raison d’etre of which is to foster deeper understanding of issues often presented in absolutist and dualistic Black-White, Us-Them, Either-Or terms by mass media. In addition, communities of inquiry speak directly to stimulus talk/s provided, and productive questions are:
· not readily answerable by reasoning or research, yet are amenable to reasoning and evidence (as distinct from faith positions, which defy reasoning);
· contentious (there are plausible competing hypotheses about them);
· such that we care about the answer.
After much reflection, we are trying the following in order to streamline the process:
1. Attendees take it in turns to briefly state their position on the piece under discussion and suggest a question. Sometimes, questions can be grouped together under themes. Also, some questions will inevitably be more or less suitable for enquiry. Less suitable are those that can be readily answered, presume what they purport to ask, or are couched in straw-man or black/white terms.
2. The group then settles on the starting question. The CoI tracks the question until it runs out of puff or the group decides to move onto a new or related track. Switching direction is fine, as long as the group agrees.
Another aim of the CoI is to build on one another’s ideas (as distinct from throwing in ideas as they arise). To check that we are doing this, we keep asking ourselves:
Does the discussion have a clear focus; Do we all know what we’re talking about? Are we sticking to the point or wandering all over the place? Are we building on one another’s ideas? Are we developing new understandings or ways of looking at the issue at hand? Are we making progress with (any of) the questions we set for ourselves?
Enquiry is a place to take us more deeply into specific questions about specific material. That said, members are welcome to attend meetups even if they haven’t managed to listen to the set material. We simply ask that they remain aware that our enquiry focuses specifically on that material.
Laurance Splitter et al., Places for Thinking: Resource Manual (ACER, 1998), 20
L. Splitter and Ann Sharp, Teaching for Better Thinking (ACER, 1995).