Although, learning is possible through one-way communication (being on the receiving end), it is even better when you are involved in a group discussion. A group discussion is a conversation between two or more people. Having a discussion over what you are learning is a very useful way to improve your knowledge on the subject being discussed.
Of course, getting involved in a group-discussion without some level of knowledge in the subject matter cannot be mutually beneficial, it is therefore advised that you carry out your own private studies and have some knowledge of what it is you want to discuss.
A group-discussion is the exchange of ideas and thoughts between two or more people, in an effort to gain a better understanding of the subject matter. It is interactive, and ideas are traded back and forth by the participants. The more knowledgeable the participants are, the more rewarding will be the discussion.
And while some people may not be very knowledgeable in a subject area, this does not mean that they cannot take part in group discussion. This category of people may have to play the passive role of listening and asking questions, while allowing the highly knowledgeable participants to play the active role of tutoring. At the end of the day, everyone learns something, and is at least a notch smarter.
A discussion group is not necessarily a gathering of smart people, although studies have found that a conference of smart people dialoguing can be far more rewarding to the participants. In a discussion group, there must be at least a highly knowledgeable person, who is willing to share his knowledge with the rest of the members. This highly knowledgeable person is known as a tutor. The tutor shares his valuable knowledge with the rest of the members, and the members are free to ask questions. There is a series of interactions between the tutor and the members, interactions among the members take place, and ideas are shared accordingly. The more difficult questions are passed on to the tutor, who then simplifies the problem.
One great benefit of participating in group discussion is that it helps you tap into the knowledge of other people, who are willing to share their wonderful ideas on the subject concerned. While reading on your own, you may come across some challenges associated with technical jargons and difficult concepts. You may need a friend to simplify these complexities, but you get a chance to benefit from a number of friends who may actually have a better understanding of the subject matter, and who are willing to share their knowledge. This can only happen in a group discussion.
A group discussion, therefore, makes studying less lonely and more collective; making you feel like you actually belong in a loving and supportive family.
Engaging in group discussion also enhances your ability to engage in academic debates. Since there are exchange of ideas and peaceful presentation of various views, you do not only benefit from these ideas, but are also able to state and prove your logical points, explain your views and clarify your ideas, making it easier for other participants to understand you, thereby improving your ability to debate. This process will enhance your ability to present arguments. tolerate and accept other people’s views.
A group discussion is most rewarding when the participants are calm and willing to let everyone participate, when even the needs of the quietest member are taken into consideration, when disagreements are handled maturely without resulting in conflict, and when effort is made to ensure that every member benefits from the discussion.
Each member of a discussion group should be able to see the group as a loving family, where every one’s presence is not ignored. The members should be willing to help one another, including those who do not seem to be benefiting anything.
A discussion will be highly rewarding if there is freedom to ask questions, however stupid the questions may sound. People who feel that they will be judged and ridiculed by the rest of the group are more likely to be reluctant to express their confusion, and may timidly keep to themselves. This is not very good, since such person goes back home feeling that he or she has not learnt a thing.
A member who is having difficulty understanding a concept should feel that it is safe and acceptable to ask questions. Every member should also feel that his or her opinion is valued. All these can be effectively managed by the organizer or tutor, who must make it the group’s core value to accommodate the needs of others.