Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Share the Load!"

As promised, here are some of the benefits of opening the book club to other discussion leaders. Some of these benefits were expected, but many of them were not. Here is a list with some explanation:

  • Increased scope. By allowing and encouraging other members of the group to choose our reading selections, it necessarily broadened the scope of the discussion. My reading tastes are somewhat eclectic, but there is no way that my taste is as eclectic as 15+ people's tastes. I tried not to duplicate authors (or to duplicate an author within the same genre), but I eventually reached a point where if I wanted to read what I wanted, wanted variety, and didn't want to spend all my time finding selections to improve this variety, I had to duplicate authors. It was inevitable. But when the group made the selections, we were all reading things that we wouldn't necessarily have chosen to read outside the group.
  • Added perspective. Along with the increased scope of the readings that were chosen, different opinions were open to the group. I may never have heard so-and-so's opinion on memes or repetition before (two recent topics for discussion), but now that we have read something new, these opinions are drawn to the surface for examination.
  • Less chance of burnout. This was expected and the reason for the decision. I talked about it in the last post.
  • More ownership. This may sound crazy, but when others are invested in something they're involved in, they are more likely to take it seriously. People like it when others show up to their discussions (and they know this once they've led the discussion). It makes them more likely to show up to others' discussions.
  • Smoother experience. Now that I don't have to spread my attention over everything, I'm able to focus on the tasks that need to be accomplished. Instead of the mad scramble that used to take place if someone canceled their discussion time, I have a queue of readings from which to draw and can lead a discussion in a pinch if necessary.
  • Better treats. I'm a decent baker, but there are a lot of talented treats chefs in my book group. Book club is nothing without the treats, and I am grateful for the wonderful variety of treats we've had.
Of course, in writing this list, this made me consider the full-length book club I had started shortly after opening the discussion leadership of this club. That book club I kept leadership mostly closedin some way or another, I chose each selection. If cooperative leadership worked so well in one settingand I recognized thiswhy did I not attempt to use a similar model for the home club? And why did that home club end (in my opinion) in failure? That sounds like the subject of another post. Stay tuned.

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