Notes from our meeting on 22nd October 2011

Meeting Notes 22-10-11

Mint Lane 12.30-5pm

These are raw notes. Not statements of agreement, nor a comprehensive account of the meeting.


Jonathan Coope, Mike Neary, Richard Keeble, David Young, Joel Lazurus, Joss Winn, Joyce Canaan, Sarah Amsler, Mahmood ?, Ian Hewitt, Laura Stratford, Sandie Stratford, John Andrews, Sara Motta, David McAleavey, Lioba Suchenwirth.

  1. Reviewed last month’s minutes.

  2. Matters Arising: Update member details on website. Sandie to replace David as counter-signatory on banking.

  3. How to provide feedback both online and during the meeting, positively and critically. What is the purpose of the comments we will be giving. The tone of our conversations is important.

  4. Recruiting Scholars: Mike sent invites to 70+ people. Please continue to send contact details of people to invite to Mike. Current membership stands at 32. Need to update website with member biogs. Please send short biog to Joss if you wish to be listed as a member on the website.

  5. Working Groups:

    Recruiting Students: Joss, Sandie, David, Richard. Importance of something tangible to offer potential students. Particularly school leavers. Application process followed by open day. Recruitment to start in April. Students in Care a priority. Would involvement in the SSC affect receipt of state benefits? No. Students with disabilities accommodated and supported. Students requiring further support, directed to parallel initiatives. Selection of students also based on interests and availability of teaching members. Would like to see a written statement describing the process. Concerns around the nature of exclusion. What about excellent students who are reactionary? “The Fascist in the room”. Students with different experience, different levels, require different ‘selection’ processes. Co-op has a ‘statement of identity’ – values and principles. Democracy, solidarity, community. Present a paper in a week. Emphasis on collaborative, experimental process between teachers/students. Not necessarily undertaking annual recruitment of students. 20 students is a guide. May not take on students each year. May take on some students outside the regular selection process. Interest in the Co-op movement in HE co-ops. A need for conscious self-reflexivity around the nature and evolution of the Centre.

    Curricula: David, Jonathan, Joyce, Laurence: Need for something practical in place, to offer students from the start. Background to the ideas of SSC is ‘Student as Producer’ but not necessarily its future. Are the 20 students all undergraduates? What about PhDs? MAs? Is the curricula discipline based or thematically based? Need to be concrete and start from where we are, not where we want to be. Constant process of radicalisation of what we do, but building on where we are at that point. Need to find agreement on the process of radicalisation and to what extent we remain in and against the current model. What does the SSC look like for potential students? What are the concrete attributes of the SSC? Are there minimum requirements? Are there ‘outcomes’? Can link the SSC into the alternative economy (i.e. co-op). Good experience for SSC students. The process of developing the SSC is the political project. Would be useful to distinguish between more detailed, theoretical work and long term objectives and the practical, clearly defined, concrete expressions on the processes of the SSC. Subjects not normally covered by teaching staff could be opportunities for teachers and students to learn together. Need to start to identify teachers, what they can offer, their availability, subjects, etc. Curriculum group to co-ordinate.

    Quality/Review: Sara, Sarah: Gave summary of their paper. Questions of quality can be alienating. How to navigate the abstract nature of how to measure ‘quality’. What does it means to value something in the first place? What does quality mean in the SSC? Ties in with the selection process of students. Also, perhaps try to move away from the notion of assessment? Co-produced a criteria of judgement. Do we need any standard or rigour? [Had to leave the room – missed end of paper summary]. Establish a reading group on this subject to examine further. Assess quality of work through its contribution to ‘pro-sociality’. Judgement or critique? Quality or radical equality/equivalence? We are part of the peer-review process. Open peer-review? Quality is often the result of something being hollowed out. Must maintain the complexity of the educational process. Dialogue is key to the process. Should everything be open, online? As open as possible? Should we video a meeting to allow others to ‘review’ the process. Yes. Would be good to articulate that we’re open to integrating the emotional experience of education/teaching/learning when presenting ourselves to others. What pedagogies do we intend to use? Quote: What is new, often isn’t very pretty but rather raw. A different aesthetic. Must think about the literal space that we use? What are the implications of the space that we use? Need to investigate possible spaces for the SSC. Need to be ‘collectively mindful’. WEA – establishing the ground rules. Students part of that process. ‘Declare our distortion of emphasis’ so that others are sensitive to it. Issues of academic and student subjectivity that remain with us.

  6. Publicising the Centre: Need for a visual design for the SSC? Members contribute to this collectively. Need a specific meeting. ‘Social marketing’ – face to face networking. Ask Ross Bryant(?) about local designers (Biliminal). All bring an object/experience/photo to contribute to the ideas. What about the aesthetic of Zines? Encourage more use of the blog. Podcasts from members, too. Perhaps periodically change the design. Our emphasis on locality requires a greater focus on face-to-face and local pamphleteering. Hold an Open Day in March where people can come and ask questions prior to the application/selection process.

  7. Values: Paper presented by John. Could look at Co-operative movement’s statement of values. Use of the word ‘purpose’. As a Co-op, the SSC should probably take Co-op values on board. Need to consider what our critics would make of our statement of values. A Mission Statement is only mimicking the corporate world. Working Group to be formed on creating a Value statement. UN year of Co-operation starts this year. Could look at that work. Perhaps select keywords that we can build on, rather than develop a full statement. Working group to establish the process of clarifying our values. Co-operation = Eutopism.

  8. Researching the Centre: Work on SSC is antithetical to our day jobs. We need to capture this so as to use it to build on. We are co-researchers in a project. Valuable to capture the ‘memory’ of the SSC. We are creating something – sometimes we don’t always know how we do it. Invite people to write on blog.

  9. AOB: Need to think about involvement of children in meetings. Need to look for another space to accommodate the size of meetings. Prepare lunch together, Eat together. Look at Croft Street Community Centre. What about intragenerational inclusivity?

  10. Calendar of meetings: Nov 25th (graphics 7.30-9.30pm), Nov 26th (12-5pm), January 5th (7.30-9.30pm).

Actions: Working group on values, meeting about design (bring object), paper on student selection, Worker’s Enquiry Group, Synthesise curriculum paper and discussion.

Ending remarks from participants: “Ambivalent, exciting, productive, grounding, stable, questions, easier, fascinating, dynamic, radical questioning, very very rewarding, interesting, constant process/struggle, creative environment, inclusive, energising, making our voices heard, building community, inspired, at a party, fun, serious at the same time.”