When I was at school, we didn’t have a debating club, we weren’t even encouraged to debate in class. At university, I immersed myself in the activism world and engaged in politics local and global. Along with others I debated the science of climate change, the controversial decisions around tuition fees and who would make the most effective SU president. It was a time that felt urgent, that felt progressive, where stuff felt possible. I felt clueless, but keen. But throughout this, I always felt scared to participate in “discussions”. I had this feeling of coming late to the party (but not in a cool way) like I was already behind everyone else in knowing stuff.
As the years went by my fascination with the world, and my curiosity about what happens was not satiated. But my confidence in that curiosity, my ability to unselfconsciously ask questions, wavered. Everyone around me just knew shit. Issue after issue would occur, I’d be asked if I’d heard about Gaza, or Syria and what did I really think about the cabinet reshuffle? Everyone was talking as if they had written a dissertation on each and every topic. I got really good at “game face”, at nodding, I got good at asking other people what they thought instead of asking what was really on my mind which was normally “what ARE you on about?”
I love learning, and am curious about the world, but so often feel I don’t have the necessary prior knowledge to be “permitted” to foster and explore that curiosity – in other words I am terrified to ask questions about stuff I feel “I should know!” I also love learning with other people, and feel I learn a lot through hearing other people’s’’ questions and thoughts. I started wondering if other people had the same questions as me, if other people felt as cluelessly curious as I did?
In a quest to learn more, and be brave and honest in my lack of knowledge, I’m hosting a series of Eat and Learn” get togethers. A very relaxed evening where we eat food and learn about a whole range of different topics (one per evening) hosted by different people who know a little bit – with the whole emphasis on the event being that it is OK to feel clueless, and a chance to collaboratively explore and learn in an un-intimidating, kind and supportive space. At Eat and Learn evenings there is no such thing as a stupid question. Phrases such as “I just thought everyone knew that” are banned. There is no assumed knowledge, there is only curiosity.
I totally believe that curiosity – about people, about the world, about issues and about politics – is a gateway to feeling able to actively participate in society. And when we have a world full of actively engaged citizens we feel more connected to one another, to what is happening, more able to take action on decisions, to disagree or agree with how different things affect us. And, it’s FUN! It’s fun to learn, it’s interesting to explore topics as well as our own opinions. I’d love you all to join for an Eat and Learn evening in the coming months… sign up here to hear about upcoming evenings.