We can sort our discussions into different types, even if the distinctions seem slightly arbitrary. We can say, generally, that discussions are either task-oriented or group-oriented.
In task-oriented discussions, the group is faced with a problem to be solved, a task to be achieved, an issue to be faced or a subject to be learned.
A task-oriented discussion is usually directive or non-directive.
In a directive discussion, the leader takes a very strong role in moving the group toward a goal, overcoming obstacles and disagreements, keeping to a schedule, coming to a "right conclusion."
In a non-directive discussion, he or she facilitates a group to approach the issue more independently and arrive at its own conclusions.
In a group-oriented discussion, the group is largely concerned with itself and its own dynamic, in contrast to the discussion of a specific theme.
Let's look at the themes we have touched upon already.
· A discussion of the Golan Heights or politics is task-oriented. The task is to examine an issue. Countering anti-Israel propaganda is clearly a task-oriented discussion.
· Learning the subject of the Holocaust is also task-oriented, but with a strong group-oriented element, depending on which approach is taken.
· An exploration of Jewish identity is very clearly both group-oriented and task-oriented, handling personal feelings, and perhaps how individuals relate to each other in terms of their feelings of Jewish identity. But at the same time, there may be an element of gaining specific knowledge about Judaism or a particular aspect of Jewish life and history: Zionism, Jewish observance, etc.
Note: In the discussions you guide, you will be focusing on a few of the diverse questions facing the Jewish world today. Most likely, your members will come together from the common background of Jewish interest and motivation. Although some of your discussions may have elements of group-orientation, they are more likely to be task-oriented: in other words, your group members are not likely to be there simply to focus on their relationships with each other or on their emotions, but rather to move into a Jewish subject and toward some tangible goal.