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 exclusive essays and fiction by all PEL podcasters and some guests, including Eric Petrie’s not-yet-published essay that we discussed with him on our recent episode about Cormac McCarthy, transcripts for four episodes, Wes’s Guide to ep. 61, my two most recent albums and other free music, the Sartre Close Reading audio, and more. We will add to this store of member booty over time.
However, our prime reason for creating this resource was to add 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 will 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 you could also schedule a real-time text, audio, or video chat or two).
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.
P.S. You can thank Genevieve Arnold for this and a number of other cool illustrations on the new part of the site.