Tutor: Murray Cox
A discussion group looking at the social and emotional issues which touch our lives. The class format will be a mixture of information and personal responses. A preparation guide is distributed a week in advance containing a general description of the topic and some suggested areas for members to research. On the day, a selected article will be read together to ensure that all present can focus on the same material. This will be followed by a guided discussion. Ideally, the group process works its magic and everyone is involved.
In addition to student preferences, some possible topics are listed below. Generally we will follow a theme, selecting a few topics from each category. Also, many topics can be divided into multiple subheadings.
1. Social issues
Social isolation in the suburbs; loneliness; friendship. Volunteering. Social effects of the increased rate of female participation in the workforce. Sandwich generation. Demographics of the baby boomers; luckiest generation. The experience of retirement. Decline of voluntary organisations, two books: Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam; Disconnected, Andrew Leigh. Individual and society, narcissism. Anti-vaccination advocates. Seventy years of post-war prosperity; materialism; culture of entitlement. Abuse of alcohol as a cultural norm. Personal loss: small and major; grief. Futile medical treatments. Positive psychology movement. Helicopter parenting; tough love. Benefits of failure. Benefits of humility. Benefits of generosity.
2. Emotion, psychology
Attitude: complaining, or gratitude for opportunities. Communication styles: gender differences. Misogyny. Elements of mental health: thought, feeling, decision making, behaviour. Intuition. Psychological flow. Personality cults. Alzheimer’s disease. Addictions. Two books by Jeanette Winterson: Oranges are not the only fruit; Why be happy when you could be normal?
3. Thought, organisational
Group process. Clear thinking and confident communication. Critical thinking skills. Logical fallacies. Problem solving. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Rational emotive therapy (RET). Bibliotherapy. Remembering our favourite teacher. Benefits of memoir writing. Neuroplasticity: native language hard-wired; re-establishing neural pathways after an accident.
Digital divide. Personal connections in the digital age. Personal isolation in the digital age. Social media and narcissism. Social media and depression. Social media echo chamber and the decline of traditional journalism. Digital pretenders: Essena O’Neill; Belle Gibson. Medical quackery on the internet. Emotion as a substitute for logic in public debate. Virtue signalling, conspicuous compassion. Young children over-exposed to digital interactions. Digital addiction. Health information sourced from the internet. Eddie Woo.
Life Matters will offer a unique opportunity for a group of ten people to explore some of the above topics. This class is based on the group process - student preparation and input will help to make each session stimulating and informative. Access to the internet for research is essential. If we run out of time, moving to a cafe for coffee and gossip is always an option. Suitable for students with all levels of language ability.