Author Archives: infwpu

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Course leaders – finding, servicing and rewarding convenors

by Frank Jennings

This article is a summary of the main points made in the workshop on this topic, led by Fran Tarbox of Kempsey-Macleay alley U3A, at the 2012 Port Macquarie Network Conference.

While every U3A operates in a different way, often depending on membership size, different methods of administration, and venues available, some of the following suggestions may be useful.

Finding course leaders:

  • In application forms, newsletters and in media articles and interviews, ask people if they would like to lead a course
  • List Network Resource Library courses in your newsletter, and ask for volunteers to lead them
  • Rotating leadership responsibility within a group or class can develop new leaders as confidence grows.
  • If a leader retires or take a break, ask their suggestions for a replacement

Servicing course leaders

  • Provide each leader with a folder containing information such as the U3A year calendar, committee details, mentor list, accident or incident forms, advice on how to deal with difficult members, venue information, reports etc,
  • Provide brunches at the commencement of Terms 1 and 3 with in-service training, eg a first aid course such as Life .. live It .. Save it (available from the NSW Ambulance Service), to explain course policies, or a Q & A session to share information and ideas

Rewarding Course Leaders

  • Certificates of appreciation
  • Polo shirts, lanyards, or other small gifts of appreciation for people who conduct courses over several weeks or terms.
  • A brunch or lunch where leaders are guests but other members pay.
  • Thankyou’s in newsletters, local media, etc
  • Thankyou cards for one-off talk presenters

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Brain articles

by Julie Henry

Your Brain Matters is Alzheimer’s Australia’s NEW brain health program, designed to help Australians live a brain healthy life. We have also developed an App to assist in monitoring your brain health. Available for Android and Apple smart phones, download BrainyApp today to help you on your way to a brain healthy lifestyle.

There are three key areas to help you live a brain healthy life: look after your Brain, Body and Heart.

All these are important in looking after your brain health.

Following the Your Brain Matters guide is particularly important once you reach middle age, as this is when changes in the brain start to occur. But it’s even better if you follow them throughout life. It’s never too late either, as brain function can be improved at any age.

For more information about Your Brain Matters and for tips and free resources on how to live a brain healthy life, visit yourbrainmatters.org.au.


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Network Resource Library

by Editor

The Resource Library is a collection of course materials which can be used by any U3A organisation for the benefit of its members. Additionally, any individual may find the resources of interest for their own benefit. You can access the Library and its resources from the Network website then click onto the Resource Library link.

How to Order Resources
Many courses are now available directly from this site. When you see the word download at the end of any item, it means that you can download that item via adobe acrobat.
If a course is not yet available direct, or you are unable to download any item contact the Library manager (via the Library website).
To order any resource material, go to the Resource Library website, click on Library Manager and you will be directed to her email address.
Most of the material is available electronically (email). If any item is too lengthy to be sent in this way, you will be advised. In that case, a CD may be sent to you.
Material sent electronically is free of charge. The charge for material on CD is $6, postage included. The charge for material in print is 10 cents per page plus postage.
If you require print copies it is recommended that you contact the Library Manager to advise your postal address and be advised of the cost. Some courses are lengthy.

EXPANDED CATALOGUE 2 – What is available

Downloads
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – Australian History – 19th Century (2 titles) – Gold rushes –- Bushrangers

The Nature of Language; (10 sessions – at least) – Contact Robert Loveday (robjloveday@hotmail.com)

The History of the English Language (6 sessions) – Contact Library Manager

Australian Literature in the 19th Century (includes 20 writers)

Geoffrey Chaucer: his Life, Work and Times

Shakespearean Tragedy (Explores 4 plays)

Shakespeare and the Modern World –

Shakespeare’s Shylock – Villain or Victim

The Six Wives of Henry VIII – Powerpoint

International Biographies (32 available)

Explorers – Portuguese Explorers in the Age of Discovery (4)

Explorers – The History of Australian Exploration – a Chronological Summary (11 Explorers)

The “Heroic Age” of Antarctic Exploration (5 stories told)

Famous Australians (27 biographies)

Comparative Religion (Notes on 9 religions available) –

Myths and legends – The Arthurian Legend – 5 Mysteries of the Sea – Irish Myths and Legends More Legends – Santa, Yeti, Loch Ness, Vampires….

The following Courses are downloadable except for “Your Cosmic Connections”
Cryptic Crosswords –

Forum/Discussion Group Topics – 10 Climate Change

Visions, Dreams, Hypnosis –

Architecture Weird and Wonderful –

Your Cosmic Connections – Contact Library Manager

Contact the Library Manager for

An Introduction to the Celts. (5 sessions) – Contact Library Manager

An Introduction to the Celts – Power Point Sessions – Contact Library Manager

South African History to 1900 (7 Topics)

Short biographies of Australian Governors, pre Federation (commencing with Arthur Phillip) – Available on CD only

Short biographies of Australian Premiers, preFederation – Available on CD only

Antarctica 1995 –A tourist’s view – Powerpoint Program

Australia Felix – or is it? – The Murray Darling Basin; The Snowy Mountains Scheme –


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Local Government & Positive Ageing Policies

by Editor

September is the time for Local Government elections, and now is the time to start thinking about how well your Council looks after its older citizens, and U3A.

The Workshop Staying Associated – Dealing with Local Government conducted at the 2012 Network Conference by Ron Browne and Ainslie Lamb, drew on the experience of participants in dealing with local government.

It is expected that by 2030, the proportion of people aged over 65 in the general population will have increased to 22%. In 2010 the Local Government Act was amended to require Councils to prepare long term strategic plans which include consideration of this growing demographic. The NSW State Government is developing a Whole of Government Ageing Strategy, which includes an acknowledgement that local planning is a pivotal element in this, and specifically acknowledges the role of organizations such as U3A and Men’s Sheds in providing community engagement on positive ageing. The Australian Local Government Association, in a 2004 report, emphasises the unique position of Local Government in developing a flexible and dynamic approach to planning for ageing populations, with development of strategies to focus on aged care services, infrastructure, affordable accommodation, transport , health promotion and community facilities.

From a U3A perspective, the availability of reasonably priced community based accommodation to conduct U3A activities, is but one part of this picture. Equally important is to ensure that local councils understand that organizations such as U3A play an important role in supporting positive healthy ageing, and that Councils are aware of their responsibilities to develop positive ageing strategic plans. An example of such a plan can be found on the Cardinia Shire Council website, at www.cardinia.vic.gov,au – call up Positive Ageing Strategy.
In September last year, when Council elections were restored in Wollongong, U3A representatives met with the major candidates for office of Lord Mayor and Council, to discuss the issue and seek their support for development of a Positive Ageing Strategy for Wollongong. As U3A representative Margaret Stratton and Barbara Lucas reported to the workshop, they were successful in their efforts – the first item discussed by the Council was the need to prepare a Positive Ageing Strategy.

The workshop discussion exchanged experiences and developed a number of suggestions as to how U3As might go about influencing their Council in the preparation of such a policy. These included:

Lobbying candidates for Council;

Making a presentation to Council officers – not just the councillors – such as the General Manager, Town Planners, Community officers; or

Inviting those officers to address a U3A meeting where issues can be raised with them;

Conduct a course on Local Government;

Link your U3A website to the Council website;

Raise any accommodation problems your U3A has directly with the Council;

Partner with other community groups for lobbying and community development;

Run a pop-up shop for local publicity during the election;

Gather letters of support.

Above all, insist on being taken seriously – keep citing your stats and community role, and be vocal and be visible.


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A Guide for New Committee Members

by Editor

The aims and objectives of the Network are:

  • To provide information, advice and relevant services to member U3As, and to encourage their involvement in the wider community, while recognizing their autonomy;
  • To encourage co-operation and networking between member U3As, and as far as practicable, with other U3A organizations in Australia and internationally;
  • To support the formation of U3As within the State of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory;
  • To promote the U3A movement by publicizing it through various media;
  • To represent member U3As at State and National levels;
  • To establish and maintain links with educational and Seniors’ organizations;
  • To co-operate with and seek support from relevant sources for applied research into life-long learning and related aspects of ageing; • To do all such things as may be conducive to the attainment of these objectives.

Principles of the Network

Based on the philosophy of the UK co-founder of the ‘British Model’ of the U3A movement, Dr. Peter Laslett.

The principles of the Network are:

  • To provide affordable learning opportunities for older people, using the skills and abilities of the members themselves.
  • Those who learn shall teach and those who teach shall learn, and there shall be no distinction between the two.
  • There shall be no qualifications for membership, and no awards, degrees or diplomas shall be given.
  • The emphasis shall be on learning for the love of it, and shall include an emphasis on the values of making things and improving skills of all kinds.
  • Learning shall take place in a friendly, supportive, social environment
  • Those joining a U3A shall pay for its upkeep.
  • There shall be no payment to any person (member or non-member) for teaching or providing a service to members except in the case of reimbursement for such expenses as travel, photocopying, etc.
  • The curriculum of a U3A shall be determined by the needs/preferences of its members and according to the resources available to it.
  • To be at all times, non-political and non-sectarian in our approach.

The Services of the Network

  • A comprehensive Group Public Liability Insurance Policy covering the majority of all U3A activities.
  • Copyright Agency blanket licence (again at reduced cost per member) and APRA and Screenrights licences, for those U3As which request them;
  • The Resource Library, an online repository of lesson notes and reference materials to assist would-be tutors preparing their courses;
  • Sub-domain website access and assistance in website management;
  • Generic promotion and publicity for the U3A movement in NSW, including a DVD, leaflets and press releases;
  • Developing links with government, and other organisations (such as COTA) in respect to policies relevant to U3A groups in NSW;
  • Representing NSW U3As within the national body, U3A Alliance Australia;
  • A quarterly newsletter, Newslink, with news and information for U3A management committees;
  • An Annual Conference;
  • Advice and assistance on request, about all aspects of U3A management
  • Facilitation of networking between U3As

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About Your Constitution

by Allan Haggerty

Following changes to Associations Incorporation legislation and Regulations last year, many U3As are updating their current Constitutions to comply with the changes. The changes generally provide more flexibility for smaller incorporated associations, enabling such matters as postal voting, simplifying accounting procedures, and clarifying committee roles and responsibilities. A new Model Constitution has been prepared, which can be adapted to any organisation’s needs. This does not automatically mean that U3As must update their Constitutions – the law provides that some of the legislative changes will be automatically be deemed to be incorporated, while other changes can be adopted or ignored. However, as many older groups have made amendments to their Constitutions over the years, it is a good opportunity to review their current Constitutions and update them so that all relevant information and any other desirable changes can be readily ascertained from a single document.

For further information, go to www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au and click onto Associations.

The Network committee recently learned that one of our longtime members, while it has a Constitution, was not incorporated. While this is now being rectified, Allan Haggarty of Griffith U3A, has prepared the following articles:

The Importance of Incorporation

There are several reasons why incorporating as an association under the NSW Associations Incorporation Act 2009 is important. The main one is protecting the assets of individual members. If incorporated, only the association’s assets are at risk. In the event someone is injured or their property damaged as a result of the association’s
negligence, they can only make a claim against the association, not its individual members. This was the principal reason the NSW government first introduced such legislation in 1984. At a time when more and more people are making claims such protection of individual members’ assets is vital.

Other benefits include, firstly, that the association, being a separate legal entity, can own or lease property in its own name without the complications that can otherwise arise when, for example, there’s a change in the executive and, secondly, that, in applying for a government grant, it’s unlikely an application from an unincorporated association will be accepted.

To become incorporated an association must have a constitution. However, if starting up, to avoid having to spend time on agreeing on what the constitution should contain at a time when members’ enthusiasm may be directed to such matters as courses, the association can opt to adopt the Model Constitution under the Act. This will provide a framework that complies with the legislation and give the association’s members time to consider a tailor-made document at a later date when they may have a better idea of what they want.

Age Discrimination

U3A Network NSW, in keeping with government policies, prefers not to specify a lower age limit for members, so as not to discriminate against any potential, or present, members. At the 2010 Annual General Meeting of the Network, the following resolution was unanimously adopted:

That it is recommended that all U3As remove age discrimination from their Constitutions by substituting “mature age’ for any specific age.

The Network prefers to encourage affiliated U3A groups to open up membership to people who are retired or semi-retired from the paid workforce. While most of those will be at least approaching the age of eligibility for a Seniors Card the Network would not like to see persons younger than that denied membership through a minimum age limit contained in a constitution, especially if early retirement has been forced upon them, or if they cannot work because of disability.

Besides they may bring new skills and enthusiasm to the organisation. Of course it’s unwise to impose an upper age limit either as there are groups with members well into their 90s still making a valuable contribution.


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Risk Management

by Allan Haggarty

Risk Management, or managing risk is about minimising danger. It is, of course, impossible to eliminate it. Two simple examples are not to cross the road against a red light and not to change a light globe before switching off the light. Common sense? Yes, but as one gets older, one can be easily distracted.

Organisations like U3As face risks, no matter what activities they engage in. Risk Management is about minimising or managing such risks.

We should all look at our various activities by putting ourselves in the shoes of a prospective member and methodically look at how we conduct those activities. For example, is there a mat at the front door of our premises and if so is it worn or uneven and likely to cause an unfamiliar person to trip or fall?

Is the door heavy or likely to swing back and push someone off balance? Are there any electrical cords on the floor that someone may trip over?

Do you serve a cup of tea? Is the receptacle for used tea bags at the end of the serving line or do members have to double back and risk spilling someone’s hot tea? Who operates the urn?

If you feel you’re too familiar with your environment, consider asking an independent perceptive person to come to a class to assist in noting potential problem areas.

Having identified some risks, how do we manage them?

Door mat. Consider replacing it, if it’s yours, or asking the building owner to do so and warn members in the meantime. A warning sign is best, to minimise the risk of members not being aware of the danger, though you should still point out the existence of the sign.

Heavy door. Consider chocking it open, or again, warning members.

Electrical cords. Consider appointing a member to be responsible for setting up electrical equipment and keeping cords out of harms way.

Morning tea. Consider appointing a member to operate the urn and to place tea bags, sugar, milk, urn and the receptacle for used tea bags in that sequence and encourage members to move well away from the area after being served.

Activities such as bush walking might require warnings about levels of fitness, terrain, duration of walk, inclement weather, appropriate clothing, sunscreen, insect repellent, mobile phone coverage, first aid and you may require participants to sign a disclaimer relieving the organisation of any liability. [An example of a disclaimer is included in the U3A ACT’s Newsletter, on the Travel Opportunities page: www.u3acanberra.org.au]

If your activities involve greater risks, eg a Men’s Shed, then obviously the scrutiny needs to be greater and again a disclaimer may need to be considered.

One more thing: CRISP’s policy imposes an obligation on U3As to take all reasonable care. So you should record risks you’ve identified and how you manage them. This amounts to having a Risk Management policy in place and should help your insurer in defending a claim. Otherwise you may be charged a higher premium or worse still, be told you won’t be covered.


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How to Deal with Difficult U3Aers

by Graeme Eggins

THE problem of “difficult” members is a question that comes up from time to time in U3A committee meetings but is rarely publicly discussed. Yet anyone who has been a U3A member for more than a couple of years has encountered members who are hard to handle. Of course, we all have to admit none of us is perfect either. Problem people can fall into any number of categories. Here’s just nine of the most common types you may encounter in U3A.

LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME!

This is the egotist member who invariably hogs the limelight, meaning that quieter, more polite members miss out. In discussions such egotists tend to dominate, imposing their views though a combination of a loud voice, persistence and a hide thick enough to ignore fellow members’ needs In classes the “Look at me” person repeatedly asks the leader for help – she or he expects the tutor to ignore other students until their needs are met. A variant is the Selfish egotist. They misuse mobile phones in classes, grab more free handouts than they need, demand services that are not available in some venues (e.g. tea making facilities), and may misuse U3A and borrowed equipment because they “haven’t got time” to read instructions. Some have held important posts in business and have never reconciled to being a plain old retiree.

THE TALKER

Talkers are disruptive in classes, as they often chat to their neighbour while the leader is presenting. They also like shouting irrelevant comments to the tutor. Talkers may also cause trouble within a group by gossiping about others during tea breaks.

NOT QUITE THERE

This person needs help. They may be suffering from the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s or some other disease. They are frequently confused and tend to inadvertently become a focus of a class leader’s attention. Some don’t realise their balance, for example, is not as good as it used to be and can tempt fate in a crowded meeting room.

NOTHING WRONG WITH ME

By definition, we U3Aers are over 50 and have impaired hearing and eyesight. A tiny minority may refuse to accept they have any physical limitations. They repeatedly shout “Speak up!” when sitting in the rear row of a meeting. They also complain about the projector screen/ whiteboard etc being hard to see.

THE PEDANT

A pendant is a member who constantly goes on about the need to observe every rule and regulation, to “tick all the boxes.” A pedant can be, but not always, a retired male teacher. This is not surprising given that “pedant” comes from the 14th century Italian source pedante meaning” schoolmaster”. The pedant loves raising points of order at AGMs.

DON’T ASK ME – I’M ON THE COMMITTEE (AKA the useless committee person)

Every research project ever done shows that getting members to serve on management committees is one of the most difficult challenges facing Australian U3As today. So it is not surprising that if a member says they will serve on committee, they are accepted immediately. Unfortunately a small percentage of such people do absolutely no work. They attend meetings but that’s all – they sit quietly, rarely offering any solutions to current problems. They invariably refer members’ queries to other committee members. Why are they there? You can only guess they like being “in the know”.

THE DICTATOR

These people mostly emerge on management committees but only after they have become an office holder. They bide their time until they have real power. They tend to make major decisions without consulting the committee; whose real role they feel is to applaud their brilliance. Dictators tend to hate paperwork – “a lot of bumpf” – and if they do write to other organisations, may forget to give a copy to the Secretary.

THE FAULT FINDERS

Fault Finders, aka the White Ant Brigade, often exist in classes which have been running with the same people for years. They may see themselves as the intelligentsia of their U3A and enjoy criticising office holders. They invariably refuse to take on the responsibilities of the people they white ant. When confronted, they always blame others


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Is Untutored Teaching Worth Trying?

by Editor

IF you can’t get more tutors, consider alternative teaching methods such as group learning, aka study circles.

Experience shows that people gathering to study a subject in which they all have a common interest can be very rewarding.

U3A Online courses (see separate story) and U3A Network’s resource library are readily available for our members to use.

The full catalogue can be found on the Resource Library page on the Network’s website . Just go to www.nswnew.u3anet.org.au and click on Resource library on the right hand side of the screen.

Mary Peterson of Monks Brook U3A in the UK tells a typical story.

“We don’t worry too much about tutors when we set up a new group. We have a meeting of people interested in a topic and sometimes a natural leader arises at that meeting.

“Otherwise we get a ‘contact person’ who is just the register keeper. It’s usually quite easy to get someone to volunteer for that. Then the whole group is involved in deciding topics for research and how to proceed.

“For instance, when we started art appreciation, no-one who came to the initial meeting knew anything about the topic at all!!!

“Gradually we started to acquire more books between us and, when we found an artist we particularly liked, we researched that one artist for the next meeting. We borrowed videos from the library. We got a camera and projector so that we could project photos up for all to see.

“Then we started taking it in turns to do research and report back to the group…

“All this has just evolved from our enthusiasm for a subject which was completely new to us, and has actually been better than if we’d had a tutor feeding info to us.

“We’ve been happy to learn together and can spend time researching and preparing our one topic each session while others are doing theirs.

“If we hadn’t started our group because there was no tutor we would have lost out so much, so my advice is not to worry too much about attracting new tutors.

“If someone wants to be a leader in a subject they know then great but otherwise foster enthusiasm for group learning.”

Self help has worked with enjoying music in the nation’s capital.

Lee Fuller of the ukulele group in U3A ACT suggests members be encouraged to use their newsletter to seek others interested in starting a self help class.

His Canberra-based ukulele group have done just that. They follow a lesson plan; use a common tutorial and useful song books, CDs and videos.

Sometimes more experienced musicians are available to join sessions and share their knowledge.

As Lee says: “Playing with a group keeps us motivated and enthusiastic and we have fun.”

What about single-session talks?
Many U3As offer a weekly talk, given either by a member or an invited guest. Guests can range from a police expert on Internet fraud to a Centrelink spokesman outlining the latest pension changes.

But what about asking your members? You may have people, specially among new members, who have one or two good talks in them.

Alternatively, you could ask four or five members to present 15 to 20 minutes mini talks on the same subject such as “The person who has most influenced my life” or “My most amazing holiday.”

U3A Wollongong uses its enrolment from to find likely speakers.

After all the usual questions about name and address, and contact details, the form asks:

“Would you be prepared to give a talk to our members at some time in the future? Yes/no.
On what subject……………”


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U3A’s face challenge attracting new tutors

by Dr Lydia Hebestreit

Attracting new tutors is one of the constant challenges facing U3A committee around the nation – and the world.

Everybody agrees that good presenters are an essential part of any U3A’s continued success.

A survey of Presidents of U3As in Victoria by Dr Lydia Hebestreit (see April NewsLink) showed that 55% of presidents said obtaining tutors was their most significant problem.

This was followed by getting classroom space (20%) and obtaining members (15%).

Most new U3As begin with a cadre of enthusiastic volunteers to draw on to present the opening programme of classes and activities.

But as the U3A becomes better known and more popular and members increase, the need to attract new tutors and retain old ones becomes more intense.

Some U3As have noticed that the number of courses – and tutors – is not keeping pace with rising membership.

U3A ACT, for example, was founded in 1986 and now has more than 3,500 members.

According to its own research, U3A ACT offered 158 courses in 2002 and 172 last year, a rise of 9%. But over the same time membership grew more than three times or 32%.

Today many U3As are finding that some tutors who have run popular courses for term after term cannot carry on for a multitude of reasons, ranging from declining health to moving elsewhere to live.

Dr Hebestreit’s research in Victoria showed that 85% of members have never served as tutors. Of those that had, 32% were men, 68% women.

The survey also indicated that tutors were more likely to have sort of degree – 37% had an undergraduate degree, for example.

The research also showed that 25.5% of respondents were men but 41% of tutors were men.

In other words women make up 74.5% of U3A members but only 59% of tutors are female.

Dr Hebestreit suggested several strategies to help obtain tutors. They included:

  • Arranging workshops where tutors present sessions on “The joy of being a tutor” and the peer teaching philosophy
  • Having two or more people share the teaching load for suitable classes
  • Offering courses in teaching methods

What prevents more people volunteering as tutors?
A potential tutor or course leader can be keen to share his/her knowledge but many face challenges such as …

Will suitable accommodation be available?

If accommodation is available, on what day of the week?

Will class times conflict with the tutor’s own long-standing personal commitments?

Will sufficient people enrol as students? (No-one like spruiking a new course in the newsletter only to see if cancelled because very few people are interested. Not good for anyone’s ego)

Is a reliable second in command or support group available?

What does experience teach us?
Most U3As surveyed for this edition of NewsLink use three main ways to attract new class leaders:

  • Word of mouth
  • Appeals in the newsletter
  • New members volunteering their services

Of these, word of mouth is the most successful. Members encourage another member to lead a group because they know of his/her experience in a particular subject.

Experience indicates that appeals published in the newsletter may encourage waverers to step forward.

Here’s an example from the newsletter of U3A MiltonUlladulla NSW:
“…So don’t be shy

“We need new tutors and courses to enrich our syllabus. So if you feel you could run a new course, either by yourself or with the help of others, please do contact our course co-ordinator…”

Mudgee District U3A publishes display ads “Do you know anyone who would like ot share their knowledge or expertise with us? Our success depends on volunteer presenters”

Back up such appeals by publishing profiles of your tutors – with photos – in your newsletter. Recognition is nice for them and may spur others to volunteer.

But what about tutor “burn out”?
Attracting tutors is the main part of the battle – holding the good ones is another. Good convenors can “burn out,” or become disillusioned.

One of the most common complains by tutors, old and new, is that people enrol, then don’t turn up.

This comment from U3A Central Coast (NSW) newsletter sums up the reaction: “Our Course Leaders put a lot of work into preparing their courses so that they bring to us the very best range of
knowledge and entertainment that can be found in any U3A.

“They are delighted when they see the listing of members who have enrolled to do their course, but are then dismayed to find a lot of members just don’t turn up.

“It is hard to come to the realisation that people of our mature age have such bad manners – we come from an era when our parents drilled good manners into us so it should be normal for us to apologise for not attending.”

One way class co-ordinators deal with a tutor’s feeling of rejection is to emphasise that the very fact that most students do attend demonstrates that they value the tutor’s contribution.

Will training tutors help?
Training is a controversial subject. Some U3As, U3A ACT for example, offer prospective tutors short information/training sessions. Most do not.

Why not? Without naming names, often because many tutors have a background in education and therefore think “I know all about teaching. I don’t need to be trained.”

Yet research shows that when many adults, particularly recent retirees who are learning for learning’s sake, do not take kindly to the “chalk and talk” method used by teachers of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

For example, more than 10 years ago U3A Northern Rivers offered tutors a two-day “How to teach adult” course through the Adult Education network.

Of the 10 tutors who enrolled, half had left by morning tea time, saying “I don’t need this.”

Show your tutors you support them
But even if your U3A doesn’t offer training, it can support its tutors and class leaders in other ways.

First, thank them. Moncrieff U3A in Queensland says in its newsletter” “A big thank you to our tutors – we are so grateful that you make the time for us!”

You can decide on a set of guidelines for tutors. The class co-ordinator can make sure every tutor is given a copy.

The guidelines could explain, for example, that tutors are permitted to set minimum and maximum student numbers as a condition for leading a class.

Tutors could also be permitted to ask students to contribute towards the cost of producing class notes and similar aids.

Some suggested ground rules :

  • Tutors should ensure that every member of their class signs the attendance sheet
  • Tutors should contact the class co-ordinator or similar officer if they want to change class times or venues
  • Tutors should warn members of the risks before going into any potentially hazardous situations – a bushwalk for example – and be given an approved accident report to complete if someone has a mishap.
  • Tutors should not set homework or give out awards/certificates unless previously approved by the management committee
  • Tutors should ensure that members observe the normal courtesies about replacing chairs and tables, cleaning whiteboards etc when using other people’s premises
  • Tutors should be alert to the fact that U3A does not discriminate against members or visitors on the basis of sex, race, colour, gender preference, age, religion, political affiliation or physical or mental disability
  • If tutors have any problems or any type, they should discuss it with the class coordinator or equivalent.

Mudgee District U3A arranges a Presenters’ Forum to bring its course leaders together at the end of each term for a morning tea and general discussion.

David Price says: “The hope is to encourage a sense of partnership and unity within the team.”

The first forum earlier this year was described as “an hour well spent in an informal atmosphere, where comments on the previous term were shared, highlights enjoyed, questions asked and thoughts discussed about future developments.”