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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

We've started a new Alliance for Socrates Cafe and similar groups around the world. This was just posted on our forum by one of our members in London in response to a question about what to do when the group grows large:


We usually have about 30 attend our meetings. We sit in a circle (sometimes the latecomers are in chairs behind the circle).

We've had votes to decide whether to split into two groups and most people want to stay as one large group, although we have to remind people to speak loudly so everyone can hear.

To ensure everyone has a chance to speak at least twice, we start with a 'go around' and everyone introduces themselves and speaks to the topic if they wish. Then the floor opens (with moderator). About a half hour before end-time, we go once more around the circle for closing remarks.

This has worked very well for us. With a group of 200, I would definitely divide the group into smaller circles, no larger than 30. In my mind, the circle format is much more conducive to open discussion than lecture-style seating, which is what you would have to have in that large a group. In that case, you don't really have a 'Socrates Cafe' you have something different.
At the library in which I work and offer these groups, we also work with the University to provide philosophy lectures. After the Professor's talk, the floor opens for discussion. People are sitting in rows, lecture style. It works fairly well for the crowd of 50 or 60, but it lacks the same intimacy that occurs in the circle.
Interesting topic.

John Wren if you are reading this I would like to get my own moderator on board - his name is Bill Paul -he's not on facebook - is there a way to add him just via email???

Many thanks and good luck everyone!


Jacqui Denomme
Community Outreach and Program Services Assistant
Central Library
London, ON N6A 6H9

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