Find out more about our wonderful Subject Advisers and what they can do for you. There is so much more they have to offer in addition to advice. They are waiting for your call!
Shri Sharma, Subject Adviser for Philosophy
For me the job of a subject advisor is to support the philosophy groups that already exist. It is also to help people who are interested in trying out philosophy, either in finding a group near them or setting up a group.
If an existing group has finished going through a text or a course, I can offer advice and support for moving forward into different areas of philosophy or perhaps to different world philosophies. I occasionally give talks online on odd topics. I recently travelled to Branston u3a STEM group to give a talk on ‘What is Philosophy?’.
Recent queries have been about how to proceed after having completed Nigel Warburton’s book, Philosophy the basics. I suggested several different ways of moving forward. These often require feedback to me from the group as to how they prefer to engage with philosophy.
I offer advice about what sorts of things people do in philosophy and how to go about having ‘arguments’ (these have a specific meaning in philosophy) and discussions. I also suggest suitable materials such as texts, MOOCs, YouTube courses, podcasts, etc.
Anytime you have any queries regarding things philosophical or what to do after you have finished some book or topic or course contact me via email or phone (details are in TAM) or submit a query by clicking on contact the advisor on the u3a philosophy page. You can also get in touch via the padlet pages on the national site. Click and write on the ‘Ask me a question’ padlet.
Geoff Phoenix, Subject Adviser for Portuguese
Group Coordinators may be unaware of the help they could receive from Subject Advisers in setting up new groups where there is no obvious leader, or in finding another u3a which provides the subject which only one or two members are seeking.
Some Advisers have produced their own material which they are happy to share with other members and groups. Group Coordinators may be at a loss to help members to start a new language group when there is no expert within their u3a prepared to be a leader. They may well find that the Subject Adviser can help when this is the case by providing a method for running a leaderless or shared leader group and even provide material to get the group started.
Group Leaders who are new to the role of leading a group or who want to share their role with other members of the group, or perhaps need some fresh ideas for stimulating interest in their groups need to be aware of the fact that they can always contact the appropriate Subject Adviser. They are there to help and are usually both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their subject and keen to help both in the establishment of new groups and by providing advice to existing groups who need help with new ideas or resources.
Existing group leaders who are having difficulty in maintaining their enthusiasm or that of their members will find that there is a wealth of resources and methods available to revitalise or extend the scope of their groups after making contact with their Subject Adviser. In fact we have been able to help a group which approached me for just such advice and provided exactly what they were seeking.
As for Portuguese, during my time as Subject Adviser I have helped to start several groups and I am developing a starter pack so that there is a simple and tried and tested course for beginners available without the need for lots of expensive language books until everyone has made some real progress. I have also helped existing group leaders with new ideas for learning vocabulary, verb conjugations and with material for new ways of getting their members to continue to progress or revive interest.
It's not difficult to contact Subject Advisers as they all have a page on the u3a national website and there is a regular page in the Third Age Matters with their contact details.
Howard Lawes, Subject Adviser for Jazz Appreciation
Our first ever UK-wide u3a festival is taking place 18-20 July 2024 at the University of York. The event will be an opportunity to bring members together to share the joy of u3a membership.
As the new National Adviser for Jazz Appreciation, I would very much like Jazz to be a part of the festival and so I am suggesting that we form the Jazz Orchestra of the Third Age.
It may seem crazy, but it is possible to bring people together with different musical abilities and create something that is both artistic and amazing. I once took part in a production called Saxophone Massive which was part of the BT River of Music in 2012. This video shows what can be done https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6QBSzXj--0 and the experience has stayed with me ever since.
If you think this is an exciting idea then as a first step, please let me know who you are, add your email, which u3a you belong to, what musical instrument you play, what standard you are at (e.g. ABRSM or similar grade achieved) whether you play by ear or can read music and/or chord symbols.
Once I know there is sufficient interest I can start to plan.