Notes for Know-how (fifth session): Community, connections, methods, mad world

13th November

Dog and Bone Pub, 10 John Street, Lincoln @dogbonelincoln

Present: Andrew, Lucy, Gerard, Laura, Tim, Martha, Joss, Mike

Localism in the Local

We had agreed to meet in the local pub as a way of making more contact with the local community. The Dog and Bone is not only an award winning CAMRA (Real Ale) pub, but hosts the meetings for many community groups.

Community Development Projects

We discussed the Community Development Projects (CDP) from the 1970s. This was publically funded local research across a range of issues of general concern: unemployment, housing, health, welfare. The publications from the programme are all well produced, written in an accessible academic style with photographs and illustrations. They are usually very critical of government policy. We decided this is a good model on which we might frame some of our own work

We heard about work to develop a transnational co-operative university, including the Cooperative College,  Co-ops UK, academics and agencies and a range of other people. There is as yet no clear idea of what the form this facility would take but it might be arranged horizontally as a network of different types of institutions and structures that respond to local need.

Local evaluations and community connections

Members of the group have strong local connections and we heard about previous research and evaluation projects that they had been involved with in Abbey Ward. One of the group raised the concern that this kind of work that we are developing had been tried before and often not very successfully. They were particularly concerned about our relationship with Abbey Ward. This led to a fuller discussion about the meaning of the concept ‘community’. One of the points that came out of this discussion was how we might connect with other localities in Lincoln, for example, the St Giles ward, where other members of the Centre live.

Research methodology and methods

The programme is still in the process of deciding how to frame the research that we will be doing. One idea that emerged from the meeting is that members might want to organise a research project around their own occupations, particularly those who are working in Abbey Ward in areas of social concern. We discussed that this is not simply about content, what they do every day at work, but how they frame that research: what kind of research method and methodology they might use.

The Enemy Within

One kind of research method is film documentary. One of the group had been to see the film ‘Still The Enemy Within’, about the miners strike in the 1980s. ‘The Enemy Within: The Secret War Against the Miners’  is the title of a book by the Guardian journalist, Seamus Milne using a journalistic methodology.

Extending the network

The group heard about contacts that had been made with local groups, including meetings with Lynsey Collinson at  Development Plus and the council’s Neighbourhood Development Officer, Paul Carrick. Both of these local community development workers are very positive about the SSC and are keen to support the work we are doing. They have given us a number of people and agencies to contact, including immigrant groups. Meetings are to be arranged with these contacts to discuss ways of taking the research forward programme forward. One idea is to write a history of the area based on the experiences of residents and their own writings and recordings. It emerged from the discussion with the Lynsey and Paul that there are many immigrants living in Abbey Ward with experience of higher education, but have difficulty maintaining an  ‘intellectual life’ given the difficulty in accessing higher education without incurring high levels of debt.

New Deal for Communities

The main part of the session was taken up discussing a paper, written by one of the members of the group, Andrew McCulloch, and published in Capital and Class in 1984 on ‘Localism and its Neoliberal Applications’. The paper was about a more recent government funded community development programme, New Deal for Communities, with reference to a particular programme in the North East of England. This was a wide ranging discussion, including the nature of the concept of community, research methodology and methods, research ethics, and the role of the police. An important issue was the way in which the local state had come to control and contain acts of local activism  in ways that perverted the original aims of the New Deal programme.  We also discussed forms of  resistance to the state that members of the group had been involved with, including squatting in Amsterdam, Climate Camp and Reclaim the Streets. All agreed what a deeply politicising experience this had been for those who took part in these actions.

On Know-how

At the end of the meeting the comment was made that the programme does not have a set objective that is likely to be recuperated by the state, but that we are learning for ourselves and with others how to do research about things that have meaning and purpose for us in this local context. An important aspect of the research process is sustaining and nuturing the SSC. In that sense it is not possible to say that this work had been tried before and had failed.

The meeting ended at 8.55. We agreed to meet next week at Croft Street Community Centre, but that we should return to the Dog and Bone about once a month. The reading for next week is an evaluation undertaken recently by Martha on Abbey Ward.

Sound track

While we sat and talked and drank some beers and juice and coke and water songs were played out of the pubs audio system. These songs included:

Tears for Fears’ ‘Mad World’; George Michael’s:  You Gotta Have Faith; Huey Newton’s  Power of Love ;  Paul Simon’s Call me Al; Tears for Fears’: Everybody  Wants to Rule the World; Tracey Chapman’s Fast Car and Don MacLean’s American Pie.

Minutes from November planning meeting

SSC Planning Meeting

Time: 12 noon, Saturday 1st November, 2014

Venue: LincolnShare | Beaumont Fee

Present: Andrew, Laura, Lucy, PW, Mike, David, Elise Tel and Harriet Stevenson

Apologies: Wendy, Sarah and Joss.

Know-How

Mike gave us a summary of the course so far, and mentioned that James Irvine’s contribution at the last session had given the programme a focus; It’s been decided that current residents’ stories and ongoing local history research will be central to the developing course.

Child Care and Accessibility

The group co-ordinating the Know-How course have accepted all but one of the CCA working group’s recommendations (the exception being the accommodation of children into the learning space). As yet, no scholar has requested support with care responsibilities.

Fun Palace | Saturday, 20 December | Croft Street Community Centre

Unfortunately, as Wendy was absent, and no one present knew very much about how the plans were going, we didn’t discuss this event.

Our Guests – Level One Journalism Students (University of Lincoln)

Elise and Hetty introduced themselves and explained their interest in the SSC. We look forward to reading their respective reports!

Events

Lucy will be returning to work in Lincoln – Boston’s loss is our gain!

Laura has moved into her new home!

LincolnShare continue in their quest to secure permanent premises…

Joss will be giving a keynote at the Learning Together conference in December.

Mike will be in Brighton on Monday, 3 November working with the Free University of Brighton

Andrew’s book will be officially ‘launched’ by the University of Lincoln in the new year.

Ritual Significance | Art Through the Evolutionary Lens will open on (6.00pm) Friday, 30 January at The Collection, Lincoln. All scholars welcome.

And finally, this conference in Edinburgh looks interesting.

AOB

December’s Chair (David McAleavey) would like all agenda items by Friday, November 28.

January’s meeting will be held on Saturday, 10 January.

 

The meeting closed at 1pm.

Notes for Know-how: Do-It-Ourselves Higher Education (first session)

16th October 2014

Venue: Croft Street Community Centre, 7 pm

Present: Gerard, Martha, Joss, Mike, Tim

We spent some time at the beginning of the session looking at and agreeing the outline of programme of work for Kh:DIO.

We then spent some time thinking about the meaning and purpose of the SSC. We reminded ourselves about the main aims and objectives of the SSC with reference to an article that was written jointly by members of the SSC and published in Radical Philosophy in 2011. We agreed that although based in our own community of Lincoln we are not a community development project, rather we were established as an act of resistance against government policy for Higher Education. While criticising the latter we are not against particular institutions that implement that policy such as any British University.

We spent some time discussing the extent to which we provide a service for student/scholars who join us on the courses, and to what extent student/scholars are collaborators with us in the production of new knowledge. Reference was made to the idea of prosumers that has come out of the business school-management literature, where consumers are encouraged to think of themselves in having a role in creating the products for sale.

The main focus of the Kh:DIO course is research: learning through the process of research, especially by understanding it rather than by emulating some of its popular procedures. The main research question would concern the provision of HE in the city of Lincoln, starting in Abbey Ward. We felt it important that through the process of learning about research we should learn about Abbey Ward. We rehearsed some of the arguments from earlier meetings about the efficacy of doing this work, the nature of our relationship and commitment to the local area as well as what we hoped to get out of the course and what other local residents would get out of the course. We also concluded that

As part of learning about the local area, participants agreed to bring some information about Abbey Ward to the next meeting as Community Reports, local newsletters as well as a list of contacts to be made. One of the participants is to do some similar research into the area where they are currently working and where they are hoping to carry out a research project on the health and well being of local residents, starting with young people in a local FE College. We all agreed it would be good to have this comparative analysis.

We all agreed it was important to attract more participants to the course. Contact has been made with DevelopmentPlus, a local community development enterprise, although that relationship needs to be developed, and an advance notice of the course has been advertised through the Lincolnite.

Making ourselves accessible and open to people with child-care and other caring responsiblities is a key issue. We discussed a paper that had been written by the Child Care Working Group. We agreed to use the suggested paragraph, see below, in our publicity and would put into practice other suggestions made by the paper depending on demand and with one exception: we all felt that running the course in the same space as child care arrangements would be too distracting.

‘Please let us know if you need help with childcare. We are able to offer support and activities on site during the classes, and would be happy to talk with you about your needs. Please get in touch a week in advance of the session you want to attend so that we can make the best plans possible. Contact sarah@socialsciencecentre.org.uk or info@socialsciencecentre.org.uk.’

At the end of the session we spent time discussing one of the participants research project in his college, offering advice and support. This member of the course said how important the SSC is for the work he is doing as a counter project and as an alternative way of doing higher education.

September general public meeting notes

The minutes and financial statement from our September 6th general meeting are below and can be downloaded here:

SSC notes September 6th 2014

Financial Report Sept 2014

SSC Planning Meeting

Time: 12 noon, Saturday 6th September, 2014

Venue: Croft Street Community Centre

Present: Andrew, Paul, Gerard, Jade, Sarah, David, Joss,   Martha, Mike, Neil, Maria Kety Gordon

Apologies: Wendy, Gary, Laura, Richard, Peaceful, Lucy, Stephen.

Observers

The meeting was joined by colleagues from the University of the West of Scotland (UWS). They had come to Lincoln to find out about the work of the SSC. They are thinking of setting up a similar initiative outside their own institution, as well as carrying through with some of the associated ideas inside UWS based on their own approach to Student as Producer.

We spent the first part of the meeting telling them about our principles and activities, and were fascinated to hear about the work that they are doing in Scotland. We resolved to keep in touch after the meeting and to find ways of working together.

The second part of the meeting focussed on our meeting agenda. Colleagues from UWS remained as observers, and sometimes added to the discussion.

Accommodation

We agreed to publicise our work on the Croft Street Community Centre website , and to attend the Centres Open day on the 22nd of September. The SSC does not have its own premises and is an independent autonomous organisation not affiliated with any other organisation in Lincoln. At the moment we enjoy making use of other premises around the City. We are looking forward to being more involved with the recently opened Lincoln Share premises and to holding meetings and running events in their new space.

Child care and accessibility

All agreed this is a key issue for the SSC. We want to make our activities as accessible as possible for parents and carers and the children and other for whom they are responsible. We received a report from Sarah on the work of the working group so far. Sarah informed us of the legal implications and liabilities of providing child care facilities. We discussed the benefits and drawbacks of members of the SSC registering with the Disclosure and Barring Service as well as gaining First Aid qualifications and registering with OFSTED. These matter sto be discussed at next meeting when decisions about how to proceed will be taken.

Curriculum Development Planning

We reminded ourselves about the Curriculum Development Planning day and the decisions we had taken. We all agreed to proceed in the way that had been suggested at the planning event: this year’s course to be a research-based curriculum.

Mike and Gerard are to deliver the course this term. This is to be a research-based curriculum organised around an issue to be decided by those involved in the course. As the course is taking place in the Croft Street Community Centre it was felt that the issue could well be a local matter relating to Abbey Ward, the part of the city in which the community centre is located.

MN to write an outline of the course for comments and publicise the course locally. It was agreed that it would be good to advertise the course at the Open Event on the 22nd of September. MN will make contact with other groups operating in Abbey Ward, e.g., Development Plus to ask for advice, support and as a way to plug into local networks.

Membership of the SSC

Joss to redraft proposals for applying for membership to the SSC, based on comments on an earlier draft and discussions from previous meetings and on-line comments. Joss will circulate this paper for further discussion so we can hopefully resolve this matter at the next meeting in October.

Statement of Values

An updated Statement of Values has been rewritten by Andrew. He will send out this redrafted statement again prior to next meeting so we can consider it before confirming it or not at the meeting in October.

Democratic decision making

Paper to be presented for discussion by Sarah and Gary at the November meeting

Business Plan

Mike to finalise draft of Business Plan once the membership issue has been resolved.

Financial report

We have £1426. 89 in the bank

The meeting closed at 2pm.

MN

12.09.14

Notes from July course planning day

We met on 19th July at Croft Street Community Centre to begin to plan the curriculum for 2014-15. Here are our notes.

SSC – Curriculum Development Event 

Present: Gerard, Sarah, David, Andrew, Billy, Stephen, Joss, Lucy, Mike, Wendy, Alan and Martha

Venue: Croft Street Community Centre

Date: 19th July

Time: 11- 4pm

Fresh Paint

We met at Croft Street Community Centre. It was partially destroyed by fire last year and has been extensively refurbished. We spent a lot of time here in the early days of the SSC so it felt very familiar, if a bit smarter. Everywhere had the smell of fresh paint.

Praxis

Wendy led the first session, asking us to think what we would like to see included in the SSC curriculum for next year. We arranged our ideas under various headings, creativity: creative writing and other forms of creative activity, theory: to understand and to change the world as a form of praxis, using the insights of ecology, anthropology, sociology and, more, specifically Marxism, Feminism and Liberation Theology, Pedagogy: different types of education for empowerment grounded in our relationships to each other and our communities; research methodology and methods: all of this to be elaborated and explored by the use of participatory research methodology and methods. There was a strong feeling that these approaches should be based around issues of common concern, both local and national, so that the SSC is more self-consciously a form of academic activism.

Review

Sarah facilitated the session where we reviewed our work from last year. There was a general feeling that people who joined us for the Social Science Imagination and Co-operatives and Education courses needed more support, with a long discussion how this might best be provided. A central aspect of this support is childcare, as part of a committment to make our work as inclusive and accessible as possible in terms of time, space/physical as well as intellectually. We generated a number of ideas for increasing support, including the provision of a mentor/tutor for new student-scholars, specifying reading for sessions well in advance along with an enhanced bibliography, and a recognition that people learn in different ways and for different reasons. One suggestion for the bibliography was to focus on women writers next year. All agreed that the curriculum for the programmes needed to be well structured and planned in advance, but without losing the sense of guided emergent collaborative development. The practice of writing up sessions and reading these written reports at the beginning of subsequent sessions was much appreciated and should be retained, as well as the aim to produce some creative work as part of our commitment and connection with local community and public(s). This could be further enhance by blogging which was felt to be an important activity, creating the opportunity for cooperation within an educational environment.

The point was made that SSC was a recognition that education is part of a process of struggle, based on a self-conscious awareness about the relationship between knowledge and politics.

Walking

David talked about the work he has been doing on Our Place Our Priorities, a social photography project, as well as other work on Our Selves and Our Poetry. He told us about working with the city’s homeless through his links with Involvement Centre and Pathways that formed part of the Framework Housing Association. He uses an evolutionary approach in his work, by which a sense of perspective and memory are reactivated through the camera, seeing the world in focus and from a particular point of view framed through a lens. He did not define this as higher education, but an educative process within the city where participants are not defined as deficit but as reciprocity. The work has formed the basis for an advocacy project for the Pathways Centre that is going on tour around the East Midlands. This work provides a way for people to consider taking part in the more formal curriculum based programmes of the SSC. It was generally felt that we need to consider how to make these links better. David intends to develop his model to work on other projects with the local council and with Framework.

Sarah told us about the work that she has been doing with this group and other work she has planned with teachers as a way of maintaining a critical edge and against the current government policy for higher education.

An important issue that emerged from these discussions is what are the unifying objectives for all of the work of the SSC.

There was a long and interesting discussion about the effectiveness of walking as a form of pedagogy: a philosophy of walking; as a way of transiting from one place to another place, spatially, temporally and intellectually; as a radical affirmation of living in the world and being part of the landscape that you are in; as a non-alienating way of re-appropriating and making claim to the city we live in; really engaging in the urban fabric we are trying to understand, at our own pace, and sometimes in other people’s shoes, appreciating the way other people access space and how people are denied access to space(s).

Share

We ate lunch together. We had all brought food and shared it with each other sitting around a table near the kitchen area of the Centre.

Student as Producer

After lunch we has a session on Student as Producer. Mike told us that Student as Producer worked on at least three dimensions: a model of curriculum development and design; a framework for institutional change, and as part of social movement to reinvent free public higher education against student as consumer and the pedagogy of debt.

Student as Producer is based on negative critique of higher education: research and teaching work against each other in the capitalist university. Student as Producer ask the question: is it possible to re-engineer the relationship between teaching and research to recreate an institution based on democratic collegiality between student and teacher, grounded in principles and practices of commons, open education, communism even?

Student as Producer is not a model for learning, but a model for creating a new form of social institution, what Giggi Roggero refers to as ‘living knowledge’, in which students are part of the academic project of the institution. In this way Student as Producer is not fundamentally about students learning, but about the meaning and purpose of higher education.

The SSC emerged out of the work of Student as Producer, its successes and failures. It important that SSC develops its own pedagogy grounded in its own imperatives based on a shared understanding of what is required and what is necessary. Joss Winn has done work on using Student as Producer as the pedagogy for a co-operative university.

Curriculum – a course of action for the SSC

This was a lively and energised debate, full of passion and commitment, with a sense of excitement about what we are doing, as well as pride; but with a feeling of caution and uncertainty.

There was a general agreement that our new curriculum should be:

  • Designed as a process of enquiry, discovery and research, rather than a taught programme, based on a well organised structure, arranged in advance, but full of emergent possibility
  • Grounded in the programmes we ran last year, with a focus on the historical development of the radical co-operative movement and its relationship to education. A specific theme of common concern on which to base this approach is yet to be agreed.
  • There will be sessions on research methodology and methods associated with this form of research that aims to be transformatory and participative
  • All of this will include an aspect of critical self-consciousness about what is the SSC and what are we trying to achieve.

Mike to write out notes for circulation as the basis for our working document on which planning the new programme is to be established. This will be discussed and taken forward at the next planning meeting in August.

The new curriculum to begin in October.

Other work

The day ended with thoughts and ideas about other work that will be provided by members of the SSC next year. This includes Sarah’s work with teachers, David’s work with the local council and with Framework, as well as Vernon’s work on poetry and creative writing.