Tutor: Murray Cox
This is a discussion group looking at the social and emotional issues which touch our lives; the content is a mixture of information and personal responses. A preparation guide is distributed a week in advance containing a description of the topic and some suggested areas for members to research. The discussion format is initially structured, followed by an open-ended style. Ideally, the group process works its magic and everyone is involved.
In addition to student preferences, some possible topics are listed below. Generally we follow a theme, and over a year some topics will be selected from each category.
1. Social issues
Social isolation in the suburbs; loneliness; friendship. Social effects of the increased rate of female participation in the workforce. Sandwich generation. Decline of voluntary organisations. Demographics of the baby boomers. Seventy years of post-war prosperity. The experience of retirement. Materialism. Culture of entitlement. Addictions; abuse of alcohol as a cultural norm. Individual and society; narcissism. Anti-vaccination advocates. Positive psychology movement. Helicopter parenting; post-millennial generation. Longevity; ageing process; Alzheimer’s disease; futile medical treatments. Robert Putnam.
2. Emotion, psychology
Attachment. Humility. Gratitude. Generosity. Communication styles: gender differences. Gender relations: male focus; female focus. Elements of mental health: thought, feeling, decision making, behaviour. Intuition. Psychological flow. Personality cults. Benefits of failure. Personal loss: small and major; grief. Adele Horin.
3. Thought, organisational
Group process. Critical thinking skills; logical fallacies. Problem solving, change. Confident communication. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Stoics and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Remembering our favourite teacher. Remembering our parents. Benefits of memoir writing. Estate planning. Sleep; dreams. Neuroplasticity: native language hard-wired; re-establishing neural pathways after an accident. Crime and punishment. George Orwell.
Digital divide. Artificial intelligence. Personal isolation, and connections, 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 signaling, conspicuous compassion. Young children over-exposed to screens. Digital addiction. Digital health record. Medical information sourced from the internet. Eddie Woo.
Life Matters offers a unique opportunity for a group of ten people to explore some of the above topics in a focused manner. 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 will be beneficial; however, digital searches are not done during the class. Suitable for students with all levels of language ability.