Maximizing Your Membership
An Editorial by John R. Carter, Sr., a Former PAC Member

Do you feel like you’re getting nothing out your PAC membership? Are the presentations going over your head or not addressing your interests? You’re not alone!

The purpose of giving presentations at our meetings is to educate our members about possibilities. It’s like planting seeds. To actually get into details about any given topic would convert the meeting into a workshop, and workshops typically require hands-on by all students with a lot of special attention from the instructor. We prefer to scatter seeds at our meetings rather than get into digging up weeds. The meetings are then a field of possibilities, not a full service educational endeavor. We are also akin to a social club where people meet new friends and nourish old friendships.

Hence, to get anything out of the meetings it is necessary to take notes and then go home and do research. The presenter’s notes are sometimes posted in our websites, so it isn’t always necessary to take notes during the meeting unless you want to do your research while it is fresh in your mind.

For others like myself, we enjoy the opportunity to share what we know. If we’re not effective in teaching, it’s because we’re not trained educators. But that won’t keep us from trying. And sometimes our presenters are educators, and maybe they don’t always get down to the level of a lay person. But that won’t keep us from inviting them. At some point in every presentation, there is something for everyone.

If what you are looking for is something more like a workshop, there have been times when OLLI has provided classes that are more like a workshop. And there are hundreds of short video tutorials for free online an any subject imaginable.

The real problem regarding astronomy is the terminology. If you don’t understand the terms, nothing will make sense. So learning astronomy terminology is important no matter what aspect of astronomy you’re interested in. What is a cluster? What’s the difference between a super nova and a dying star? How do I find what I’m looking for in the sky? That all comes under the heading of Astronomy 101. So maybe we need to offer workshops or spend a little more time in our presentations just about astronomy terminology and how objects in the sky relate to each other.

My take on not coming to meetings is like not going out to the garden. You have no idea what will germinate if you don’t pay attention to it.

When I go to a meeting (any club that I belong to), I might go home with only one new piece of information. And for me to spend two hours listening to the same stuff over and over to get one new idea is worth it to me. Because my friends are there.

John R. Carter, Sr.