Attending: Lucy, Tim, Laura, Mike, Gerard, Martha, Joss, Wendy, Ken
One scholar shared his paper: ‘Using the Sociological Imagination to Investigate a Theme’. An attempt to find a ‘sociological prism’ to understand the complexity of the world.
He shared details of his health survey and research proposal and said he’d had 1000 responses to the survey, which is now being analysed by the local council. Focus groups will follow. It was suggested that we learn more about focus group techniques at the SSC.
He talked about the ‘Seeds of Change’ project at his college which is an attempt to improve the health, perceptions and lives of pupils and their families through community gardening.
We talked about poverty: of ideas, imagination and aspiration among some people, and the importance of coming together to do something and engage with people.
We talked about guerilla gardening, city farms, allotments and how these forms of community activity are constantly under threat.
Another scholar introduced her research proposal to the group, which if successful would fund her through her employer.
She’s proposed research which is designed to improve children’s literacy through ‘gifts from the community’. People will be asked to volunteer to help parents read at home with their children by creating time for them to do so. She suggested that scholars might like to volunteer and that it would provide access to conversations within the Abbey Ward area. The aim is not to teach children how to read but to develop community support for reading. We also talked about the ethics of research interventions.
The research is intended to work at two levels: the effect on the children’s literacy and the effect on the community.
We talked about the effect that our upbringing can have on the way we read and how a love of reading can be passed on from generation to generation. Public libraries have played an important role in this.
In the final part of the session, we discussed the format of the Know-how course and it was suggested that we alternate between i) a structured curriculum focusing on the nature and methods of research, and ii) reports from scholars about their own research, which a number of us are now doing. This had emerged from previous weeks of Know-how where we have discussed a number of scholars own research and approaches to research, but also feel a need for a complementary seminar-style component to the course that provides a structured approach to understanding what research is and how it is undertaken. This could be done by combining ‘text book’ introductory reading with reading of actual research papers that reflect on their research methods.
A curriculum will be developed next week for the new year.