Introducing the PEL Citizen Commons and Not School Study Groups

You should now see the words "PEL Citizen Commons" on the PEL site in the menu bar below the header. Clicking this will allow you to set up a recurring $5/month donation to PEL which will give you access to a whole new portion of this site. There's a discount if you sign up for a year.

Doing this will not only allow PEL podcasts to continue, but it will immediately net you a bunch of free stuff, including the full versions of those vintage episodes that are just previews on our public feed, other bonus audio including group discussions of texts that PEL hasn't covered, exclusive essays and fiction by all PEL podcasters and some guests, transcripts for a few episodes, and high-bitrate mp3s of many of the songs featured on PEL episodes. We will add to this store of member booty over time.

A key feature of this resource is support for listener study groups, and we call this feature PEL Not School. The tools for Not School are fairly simple, the kind of thing you can find in lots of places on the Internet: forum functionality, and the ability to create and manage user groups, including internal-to-the-PEL-site messaging and group-specific forums.

The second ingredient is the structure: groups run on a monthly basis, so you don't have to make a major study commitment to join one. Anyone can start a group, but you have to (via the forum) negotiate with other people to get at least two of them to sign on to your group proposal. A proposal specifies what you'll talk about (which could be a couple chapters of a book, but could also be some episodes of our or another podcast, some online course materials, or philosophy-related movies) and how you'll talk about it (you could just use the site forum, but many groups get together via Google Hangout or Skype).

Even busy people, and even people already in school, can set up groups with very modest expectations, and the social pressure of having other people relying on you to follow through and do the work and communicate about it will help you finally get around to reading that thing you keep meaning to, or take a closer look at one of our episode topics, or have some substitute satisfaction by getting other PEL listeners to talk with you about some topic that we haven't gotten around to yet.

We also hope that less busy people will use this resource to find each other and vigorously pursue their own education. If you're not in school, and you want to learn things, just listening to us isn't enough. You need to practice talking and writing about these things, or you'll never know if you're making sense. You need feedback, and social interaction. You need Not School.

Compared to actual tuition, or tutoring, or paying someone to read your work, $5/month is a pittance.

Read more about how Not School works.

The art on this page is by Genevieve Arnold.


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