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

Joss, Gerard, Andrew, Martha, and Peaceful attended this week. A mailing list for the course/research project has been set up and so far 17 existing SSC scholars have asked to join. We need to work on publicising the course better so as to attract new members from the area.

We brought examples of data for the area, including crime, census and national statistics data from the Lincolnshire Research Observatory.  It doesn’t tell us much more about Abbey Ward than we could already assume. It’s a large and varied part of the city and about 30% of residents have a degree or above (level 4) qualification.

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 15.49.40We talked about research that one scholar had done into the New Deal projects in Newcastle and Hartlepool and he stressed the need to look for examples of past radical research and research methods. He also spoke about how in his experience as a researcher, the lives and stories of women were often the most revealing and informative.

We talked about the Old Bunker Project next door  to the community centre where we meet and about the surveys they have done with local residents. They collected preferences for what people want and desire. This is interesting data and could be usefully combined with other sources of data such as interviews, life histories, case studies and statistics.

We will invite James from the Old Bunker Project to the SSC and offer help analysing data and look for follow up questions and approaches.

We will create a shared folder for us to compile documents and links to projects/planned projects for analysis/summary.

One of the main questions we asked was how to get people to work with you on research projects. Why should people care? One question we could ask is, ‘What does higher education mean to you?’

We are keen to understand the history of the area so as to get a better idea of why it looks and feels as it does today and so that we establish a connection with the area.

We thought it would be useful to schedule a class during the day-time to walk the length and breadth of the area to appreciate it.

We agreed that our research must be fully participatory. We need residents as scholars, navigating the research and forming the questions.

We need to ask what are the hidden structures of the area? What are the invisible demographic features? What are the resources in the area? Corner shop, pub, neighbour, etc.

It was suggested that we need to see everything in the area as a ‘resource’ and everyone as a researcher, even the absence of something is a resource to the researcher.