Participative learning

(The ethos of the U3A)

It may be helpful, particularly to new members, to emphasise the fundamental ideas of a U3A activity group. It is not meant to be a carbon copy of the traditional taught class as found in other places. In the latter, the expert teacher chooses the subject matter, decides how it will be presented and teaches it. In a U3A activity group, all should contribute as best they can to both teaching and learning. It is nothing if not a co-operative enterprise - a process of mutual education. Note, that just as a traditional university does not confine its students to intellectual subjects, nor does the U3A, which places equal value in the participation in social, leisure, arts, craft, social and sports activities.

It can be very helpful if a member has a specialist knowledge or skills but some of the groups have no such 'expert'. Motivated by their common interest, members encourage and help each other forward in a variety of ways. It is this blurring of the distinction between teacher and taught, this emphasis on both accepting responsibility for our own learning and helping others, which makes the U3A activity group distinctive and innovative.

However, the actual existence of the groups would not be possible without the dedication of the group organisers who are so generous with their time, and in many cases, their homes, and we extend a special thank you to them.