ASSAP: Paranormal Research
ASSAP: Paranormal Education
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ASSAP History: 'Education'
by Val Hope

History Index

As a registered charity in the field of education we take this area very seriously. The focus of education has shifted over the years as we realized what was and was not practicable for an organization the size of ASSAP. A training initiative from the early days that came to nothing was distance learning. ASSAP's first Training Officer, Dennis Bury, recognized two different types of need, one being to learn about new areas and the other to develop the ability to evaluate information. However, the concept of individualized programmes of study devised in consultation with the student and a counsellor, supplemented by practical activities, proved too ambitious and had to be dropped. An early plan for a team of tutors to act as adjudicators to set up basic ASSAP qualifications also went the same way.

The Publications Department put together a number of specialist reading lists in the early days, based around recommended core texts. For a while they were popular handouts, but members’ interest in them gradually waned and we stopped updating them. There were also early plans to publish one-off special works on particular aspects of anomalous phenomena, but these did not come to anything. In a slightly different incarnation they can be considered to have transmogrified into the specialist subject articles and perhaps the individual chapters of The Paranormal Investigator’s Handbook.

Some of the early events we held were aimed at training the attendees in some aspect of investigation, such as ‘Believing Your Eyes’ in March 1982. This study day looked at the potential for fraud and the practical problems of studying phenomena such as metal bending. We also held a conference on Survival in 1985, which examined the subject from a number of sides, with speakers and information stands from the fields of psychical research, Spiritualism, Swedenborgianism and others. Lucian Morgan led a workshop on lucid dreaming one afternoon in the Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, and Chris Street lectured us on London's ley lines after the 1991 policy meeting at Rudolf Steiner House.

A chance to mingle and learn new things was provided by the two garden parties held in the grounds of David Christie-Murray’s riverside house in 1983 and 1984. The first event was opened by author Brian Inglis and attracted 200 visitors. Various stands were set up around his lawn, with medium Carmen Rogers giving psychic readings, Mary Caine talking about the Kingston Zodiac, ASSAP showing its activities with a set of display boards, people having the chance to try out dowsing and so on.

ASSAP’s biggest ever conference took place in London in 1993. It had an earth mysteries slant and was based around a recent book by a group of authors and researchers with ASSAP connections. ‘London Unveiled’ included presentations on local legends and traditions, the history of paganism and so forth by speakers including Rob Stephenson, Nigel Pennick, Steve Wilson and Andy Collins. On the Sunday Caroline Wise led a fascinating tour of London’s mysterious sites, including St Paul's cathedral, St Bride's crypt and the Templar church.

As an educational charity we now fulfil our commitment to education primarily by providing a wide range of information in our publications, on the internet, at occasional study and training days and so on. A Research and Investigations Day held at Charlton House in summer 2000 presented members with their first chance to meet their new president, as Lionel Fanthorpe came along to give a talk on his research projects. Other speakers were John Spencer, Phil Walton, Bill Eyre, Terry Hewitt, David Taylor and Andrew Homer, the latter with a repeat performance of a multimedia presentation that their own group, Parasearch, had given earlier at the Fortean Times UnConvention.
© Valerie Hope 2007