How does it work?

We all want to learn new things. But, it can be difficult and intimidating to figure out where to start. It is also hard to learn new stuff with nobody to talk to…but it’s even harder to get a group of people together to meander aimlessly through all of human knowledge in search of enlightenment. ArrrG is one way to make exploration fun, and with just enough structure to make it easy.

Here’s the idea:

1) Spin the wheel

Honestly, this is just an easy way to get us off the couch and making a decision on a place to start in this world full of knowledge. That actually isn’t entirely true. The other important thing the wheel does is keep us from always going back to the same few subjects we know, which is exactly what we’re trying to get away from. 

(The wheel is a list of all the departments in your average university and covers most of the subject areas that exist out there in the world, but it’s not the be-all-end-all. Feel free to make your own wheel and add more [link]. ) 

2)  Find something to read 

Once you’ve spun a subject, take a deep breath and realize you don’t have to know a darn thing about it, that’s the point. Go out and find something in that field that strikes your fancy. It can be academic research, popular news relating to the subject…pick something you’ll enjoy reading and that introduces you to something you didn’t already know, that’s really what this is about. 

We really encourage you to look up the department webpage for your subject area. Take a look at the faculty bios and give them a call or an email if something they research strikes your fancy. I guarantee that 99% of them would be glad to recommend a paper or a recent popular news article on something they find fascinating.

3)  Set a date and a place

Put together a list of friends who you think would enjoy getting together. This does NOT have to be formal. Have an ArrrG at the bar, at home, in the park, or on a boat, with a goat…it really doesn’t matter. The point is, pick some people you enjoy, a place you all can talk comfortably. Pick a date to meet there, send everyone the reading material in your invite, and your ready to ArrrG!

4)  Talk about it!

If you are the one who picked the material take some time to think about what you read and what hit you. What made you shake your head, or surprised you? Write that down. Maybe turn those thoughts into a question or two. Use those to help get conversation going when everyone is together.

But remember, nobody is an expert. We recommend starting off the conversation with, “I’m no expert, but…” It reminds us all that we’re new to this (and that, even if we actually are experts, we can try to listen with fresh ears and recognize that others are just dipping their toes in for the first time). Remember too, this isn’t an argument. We live in polarized times, but listening to ideas without challenging them right off the bat is so incredibly important.

5)   Spin the wheel again

Once you’ve had a hearty discussion of the topic at hand it’s time to start planning for the next time everyone gets together. It’s time to pick a new topic and a new person to go out into the world and find something to read.  It really doesn’t matter a hoot how you do this, every group is different. Draw straws, pick by birthdate, play a game of spoons, it truly doesn’t matter. Just pick a new leader, spin the wheel to pick the next topic, and you are on your way to reading something you’ve never heard before.

6)  Do it all again next week!

Actually, nobody is watching. You can meet once a week, once every Martian month, or every time the dog howls at the moon. Just pick as schedule that works for you and your friends and keep it up.