Partners in Learning Actively Teaching Ourselves (PLATO)
We are an actively involved group of approximately 400 members who meet regularly for discussion groups and other activities in Westwood Village (near the UCLA Campus). We come from a wide variety of experiences in life and various career paths. Although many of our members are retired, we have many members who are still working. The “heart and soul” of the PLATO Society are our peer-led discussion groups known as SDGs. They meet for 2 hours once a week and have in-depth discussions in seminar-style classes. In addition, we hold monthly colloquia that feature renowned speakers, member-led lunch-time lectures, foreign travel, local cultural events, retreats, and numerous extracurricular activities that complement our academic programs.
I joined PLATO because it was highly recommended to me by a long-standing PLATO member and because I thought I might enjoy continuing to learn in a discussion format led not by a professor but by other members. As a PLATO member, I have gained far more than I’d even anticipated, being able to take, propose and lead study discussion groups in areas with which I was modestly familiar, but also in new areas in which I was interested—or at least curious. I have greatly enjoyed the other members of PLATO and have made many personal connections that I cherish, which led me to start a history book club of PLATO members that has lasted almost 9 years and to join a “salon” of PLATO members which meets monthly to discuss current topics. I have also been enriched by many of the other PLATO activities available to us from our Brown Bag presentations, ad hoc groups and our Friday “TGIF” events.
I have been stimulated by learning from others and by being in an environment that encourages us to learn ourselves and to share our insights and passions with others. I have found that members of PLATO are bright, engaged, and sociable. If the keys to a happy life include continuing to find intellectual stimulation and social interaction, I could not imagine a better environment for me—or for any of us who love to continue to learn.
Sam Pryor, President of PLATO