Hear this page!
Many of you will be familiar with the Theory of Human Needs, as described by Maslow. On the right is Maslow’s pyramid, showing how we only develop our knowledge when the base is solid. It is worth considering, given that we all have to decide how to get involved with u3a activities again in the coming months.
Thanks to supermarket deliveries, we have been able to have our basic needs of food met and are fortunate to have shelter in our homes. But since the start of the pandemic, we have not felt, or even at times actually been, safe, and, until we do feel safer, we won’t want to meet in social groups. After such a long break from normality, our confidence may have taken a knock. This model may help us to appreciate that our groups, led by convenors, will rebuild slowly, and will need to do so at their own pace.
The u3a movement is all about providing opportunities to achieve the top parts of the pyramid. And central to achieving this is good communication between members and convenors. The website calendar is a useful tool to keep everyone updated, but so too is direct contact – via email, letter, phone, or even small informal social gatherings – in order to work together, to return to the familiar interest group meetings that give us so much pleasure.
I know that quite a few groups haven’t taken advantage of the technology available today, yet around half of our members have gamely supported our online efforts to keep our u3a going. I am delighted that we’ve continued to offer at least some activities over the last year, especially since many a u3a across the UK has simply closed down.
Being u3a Chairman must be similar to being the pilot of a hot air balloon: in a fine, calm climate, the organisation just floats along. Suddenly last year we were blown off course and had to ‘zoom’ into the stratosphere of IT and social media. Now I hope we’re gently descending, but with no idea where we’ll end up or even what the land beneath will look like in the future! With your help on the ground, I hope the committee and convenors will find a welcoming return to earth during the course of our next year, starting with our 2021 AGM on 20 May.
Last month I invited you to send me any views you have about where we are as a learning organisation and where you consider we should head if you believe we ought to change course. I’ve received five responses to date, but I (or indeed any member of the committee) would very much welcome more!