Chautauqua for the 21st Century

The Chautauqua movement in USA pioneered adult education for common folk. We’ve tried to recreate a version of this for the new Century as an e-Chautauqua. The 20th Century version brought new information to rural people who otherwise wouldn’t have had access to libraries, lectures and concerts. The 21st Century has change all this. Information is everywhere. The common psychological themes are

  • empowerment
  • imagination
  • experience

In the 19th Century a good speaker with an oil-lamp slide show based on hand-etchings could conjure mental images of distant galaxies. 21st Century pre-schoolers have Hubble space telescope images.  But common to both is the thrill of that first look at the moon through a telescope. It is like the difference in experience between a picture of a pop star and meeting the star in real life. The less makeup and costume the more we feel we’ve experienced a connection with something real.

So our common theme is do it yourself. This can mean many things: It can mean build it yourself or experience it yourself. And sure, common sense prevails. It is often cheaper to buy something at a discount or second hand than to build it yourself. A set of lenses and parts may end up costing more than buying a telescope … A pop star’s album may cost you less than going to a karaoke to sing it yourself. But experiences are priceless. They are what life is all about.

Our e-Chautauqua ‘tents’ are structured around the main themes of traditional Chautauqua:

  • Education
  • Reform
  • Expression

As with the traditional tents they cover a range of activities from psychology through astronomy and music. But you can apply the do-it-yourself, experience-it-yourself logic to your own areas of interest.

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