Officers advanced training school - discussion groups



Officers advanced training school - discussion groups


Covers the principal aim of discussion groups, summary of aims, advantages over other methods, organisation and hints on techniques of running/guiding/leading, discussion groups, Followed by page of questions.



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Four page typewritten document

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[date stamp of No. 1 Officers Advanced Training School JUN 1945]
[underlined] PRECIS: DISCUSSION GROUPS [/underlined]
[underlined] References: [/underlined] A.M.O’s. A.871/41, A.787/42, A.1115/43, A.942/44.
Publications: “Target”, A.B.C.A. Handbook and Pamphlets “War” and “Current Affairs”.
“British Survey”, Weekly War Commentary.
[underlined] The Principal Aim of Discussion Groups [/underlined]
1. To promote Service efficiency in War and capability as a citizen in peace.
[underlined] Summary of Aims [/underlined]
2. (a) To improve the efficiency and morale of the Service by furthering a clear understanding between officers and men.
(b) To foster the national morale by giving a clear idea of what we are fighting against and what we are fighting for.
(c) The meaning of total war, propaganda, political structure, democracy.
(d) To relieve boredom and to foster mental alertness, self-confidence and self-expression.
(e) To prepare Service personnel for the responsibilities of citizenship on return to civil life by:-
(i) Organised free speech and discussion.
(ii) Understanding the other man’s point of view.
(iii) Improving the standards of criticism and discussion.
(iv) Studying the problems and issues of the day.
[underlined] Advantages over other Methods [/underlined]
3. (a) The lecture-room atmosphere is absent.
(b) Each individual is encouraged to take an active part in the discussion and not to be merely a member of a passive audience.
(c) The Leader of the discussion and the members of the Group are learning at the same time.
(d) Discussion teaches impartiality and tolerance, the ability to weigh up statements and arguments, articulation, self-confidence, thinking quickly and a critical but fair attitude.
[underlined] Organisation [/underlined]
4. (a) Discussion Groups are now compulsory and may be held during working hours. (A.M.O. A.1115/43).
(b) Short courses on current affairs at University centres.
(c) R.A.F. School of Discussion Groups Method (an excellent course)
[page break]
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(d) Various organisations exist in different Commands for giving assistance in running Discussion Groups and recording the opinions expressed. Get in touch with these through the Station Education Officer.
(e) Lectures on Current Affairs supplied by Regional Committees appointed by Central Advisory Council for Adult Education in H.M. Forces (A.M.O. A.871/41).
Payment of Lecturers (A.M.O’s. A.209/42, A.787/42, A.1016/44).
[underlined] Hints on the Technique of running, guiding and leading Discussion Groups [/underlined]
5. (a) A Discussion Group should consist of approximately 20 members.
(b) Select the most comfortable room available – seat the members in a semi-circle – create a friendly and informal atmosphere – permit smoking – let members sit when speaking – relax in body, but not in mind. Inculcate a spirit of free discussion – avoid educational or academic atmosphere.
(c) The duration of meetings should not exceed one hour.
(d) Begin meetings by reading the message by the Chief of the Air Staff appearing in each number of “Target”.
(e) Choose subjects for discussion which are not too abstruse or difficult – at first the more simple the better – subjects chosen should be concrete and of real interest to the members, e.g. “Should sweepstakes be legalised in this country to aid and finance hospitals”, “What is the basis of a happy marriage”. Tend to keep subjects topical and controversial, e.g. “The chain store versus the small or privately-owned business”.
(f) Avoid subjects on religious and racial topics or those which lead to political or Service arguments such as criticism of Service discipline.
(g) Choose the Group Leader and the subject for discussion at least 14 days before the meeting is to be held. At the preceding meeting is a very good time.
(h) The Group Leader should be prepared to open the discussion by speaking on the subject chosen for say from 5 to 10 minutes – and define the headings under which he wishes the discussion directed. Here is an example:
SUBJECT: Should the W.A.A.F. be an integral part of the post-war organisation of the R.A.F.
HEADINGS: (i) Should the R.A.F. be open to women as a career.
(ii) Is a woman qualified by education, physique and temperament to take up a Service career.
(iii) Would such a career be of benefit to women.
(iv) Would the opening of the Service as a career for women prove of benefit to the Service.
The Group Leader should control the discussion and keep it within the bounds of the headings – but he must be tactful and impartial. He should try to draw all members of the Group into the discussion by inviting their views – pass the ball of discussion from one to another and interfere as little as possible, consistent with keeping control. Avoid denying or contradicting flatly, statements made. Encourage the timorous speaker.
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(j) The Group leader should give a brief summing-up of what has been said at the discussion, and announce quite impartially what decisions have been reached. A brief survey should be given of the conflicting points of view. Judicial verdicts by a majority of votes are to be avoided.
Amendments to this Precis:
[page break]
[underlined] DISCUSSION GROUPS – QUESTIONS [/underlined]
1. What publication has been produced by the R.A.F. specifically to help discussion group leaders?
2. What other publications might be useful?
3. Why are discussion groups likely to make an airman of greater value to the service?
4. Why should the service be interested in training an airman to take his place as a citizen after the war?
5. In a lecture the audience is passive and under no obligation to take an interest in the proceedings. How does the discussion group method overcome this disadvantage?
6. Would ‘The R.A.F. Officer To-day’ be a good subject for discussion by airmen?
7. Why would the one word ‘Russia’ be an unsatisfactory subject?
8. What should the leader do if one of his group makes an obviously stupid statement?
9. What procedure should be used with an inexperienced group?
10. Why is it necessary to be very precise in stating the subject for discussion?
11. What courses are now available for those engaged in running discussion groups?
12. What help would you expect to receive from a regional committee of the Central Advisory Council for Adult Education in H.M. Forces?
13. Where would you find the regulations for the payment of outside lecturers?
14. Why is it advisable to announce the subject in advance?
15. A.M.O. A.1115/43 lays down that discussion groups will be compulsory, but what other regulation does it introduce to alleviate disadvantage of compulsion?


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