Each reading group will be different, and there’s no ‘right’ way to run it, but here’s a few ideas and pointers.
What to read?
The econowhat team got together a set of ten parts of reading at www.econowhat.org.uk. These cover a range of topics around the financial crisis. We’ve aimed to include items each week which are easy to read or watch, even with no prior knowledge. It’s not necessary to read all the items to take part, on the other hand some people have enjoyed reading further around the issues. A mixture of approaches can help to form a really interesting well informed group!
Who to invite?
Friends, family and colleagues
You may already know several people who are interested in the same issues. Three or four people can form a great reading group, and you may want to start off with people you already know, live or work with. Sending an email around your contacts is a good idea, and the reading group’s a good chance to get people who don’t already know each other in the same room.
An existing group
If you’re part of a charity, campaigning, religious, political or social group why not suggest that one of your regular meetings is used as a reading group, or set up a special meeting to do this? A reading group can be a great way to get to know people better, setting aside time for deeper conversations.
One of the most exciting things about the econowhat reading groups so far has been bringing people together who have never met before. This can also be a great way of getting more people interested in your existing group.
If you want to invite new people to your reading group we can help by publicising your group on the website, and sending it out in the email update to people who have signed up. Let me know on firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in doing this and I’ll add you to the list.
How many people is a good number?
This will vary depending on the people involved and their preferences. Two people is plenty to start a group with, I have found so far that anything over about 7-8 can start to make it a bit tricky for everyone to speak. However, a bigger group may work for you, or if it doesn’t and you get more people along you can talk in two smaller groups and then compare notes at the end.
Where to meet?
Some free venues might include a quiet pub or café, meeting rooms in community centres or religious buildings, university rooms, union premises, or if it’s a private meeting you could also meet at your house, workplace, or wherever suits you. If you’re struggling with finding a place to meet, let us know.
How to make the meeting work well?
Being responsible for a meeting can be quite intimidating, but the good news is that with a reading group you can expect everyone coming to be interested and have things to say! Here are some tips:
Take email addresses
Ask if people want to suggest extra/different readings for next time
Set a time, date and place for your next meeting
Start off with introductions. You can kick the meeting off by asking everyone to go round saying who they are, and why they’ve come along to the meeting. This can help break the ice too.
You can be as involved as you want in trying to steer the meeting, this is a discussion group, so it should run itself to a large extent. If you do want to take the initiative and help to get the discussion moving you can try…
Asking questions. If conversation doesn’t flow easily, or flows too easily and seems to get very off topic (!) try asking questions to get the discussion going again. A good starter is ‘what did everyone think of the readings?’ Each week along with the readings we’ve posted some suggested discussion questions so you can use these during the meeting if you want to or you can agree at the start of the meeting to discuss around those questions.
If you feel that one or two people are speaking a lot, and others aren’t getting chance to input you can use the ‘go round’ as a tool to let everyone speak – at some points in the meeting suggest everyone speaks in turn to input their thoughts.
At the end of the meeting:
Getting involved on line
If questions come up in your reading group that the people there can’t answer, you can write them down and post them up on the Facebook group. This is a great way to carry on the discussion after your meeting and connect with other people in groups around the country. The econowhat team can also feed back on questions for your next meeting.
Your reading group can really look however you want it to, you can stick to the list of readings on the website or you can pick your own, you can meet once a week or once a month, you can really shape it however it suits you and the rest of your group.