Know-How: a course in do-it-ourselves higher education

The Social Science Centre, Lincoln

New course 2014-2015

Know-How: a course in do-it-ourselves higher education

This course1 introduces participants to the principles and practices of social science with the aim of achieving something for the benefit of ourselves and our local community. At the Social Science Centre, Lincoln,2  we believe strongly that social science can provide the resources for people to take some control over their own lives. Focusing on issues of interest and concern to those involved on the course, and using the methods of research and discovery, participants will develop understandings, create meanings and produce knowledge about things that matter to them and to their friends,  families and communities. Work done on this course will be shared with others, e.g., as stories, photographs and creative writings, contributing to the store of general social knowledge.

The course starts on 16th October and carries on until the 18th of December, 7-9pm at Croft Street Community Centre, Lincoln. The course may be extended after the Christmas vacation if more time is required.

Structure of the course

The course is divided into themes related to the overall research project. Each theme may take more than one session.

Lively and Engaging

All of the sessions will be participatory, giving all scholars the chance to engage with the materials in ways that are lively and engaging. At the Social Science Centre (SSC) we refer to each other  as ‘scholars’, rather than students and teachers, as a way of respecting  each others’ intelligence and recognising that we all have much to learn from each other.

1. What is the Social Science Centre and who is it for?

The first theme will be about the nature and purpose of the Social Science Centre: who is it for and what does it do? The SSC has been set up by teachers, students and local residents as an alternative form of higher education. The SSC is free, in the sense that there is no fee for the course and participants are free to think beyond the learning outcomes that structure university degrees. A particularly important issue for the SSC is that participants are free to think beyond the financial imperatives that dominate higher education. This session is about how you might get involved with the SSC, how you can contribute and what you’d like to get out of this course.

Suggested Reading

Amsler, A., Canaan, J., Cowden, S., Motta, S. and Singh, G. (eds)  ( 2010) Why Critical Pedagogy and Popular Education Matter Today, Centre for Sociology, Politics and Anthropology,  Higher Education Academy, University of Birmingham.

Bonnett, A. (2013) Something new in freedom. Times Higher Education.

Collini, S. (2011) What are Universities for? Penguin Books, London and New York

Holmwood, J (2011) Manifesto for the Public University, Bloomsbury, London and New York

Social Science Centre (2013) An experiment in free, co-operative higher education, Radical Philosophy.

2. Planning our research and discovery projects

The second theme will look at  research planning, incorporating the questions of the whole group as well as particular issues that people  want to research. This session can offer support with research  that participants are already working on.

3. Community Research and Discovery

The third theme looks more closely at the topic of research in a community setting. This will include thinking about ways of doing research that is public and participatory, promoting solidarity and social change between academics, activists and concerned individuals, as well as challenging power relations. This session will look at different approaches to doing this kind of research: feminist, Marxist, anarchist and enlivened learning, as well as the different methods we can use to learn from each other, e.g., structured conversations, social photography, extended case studies and other design frameworks.

Suggested Reading

Blackshaw, T ( 2009) Key issues in Community Research, Sage

Living in Lincoln: Abbey Ward,including Community Plan, published by Community First (n.d.)

Stacey, M. (1970) Tradition and Change: Study of Banbury, Oxford University Press  Banbury

Chatterton, P. Fuller Routledge (2007)  ‘Relating Action to Activism – Theoretical and Methodological Reflections’ in Pain, R and Kesby, M (eds.) Connecting People, Participation and Place, Routledge London 245-287.

Motta, S. and Estevedes, A. ( 2014)  ‘Reinventing Emancipation in the 21st Century: the pedagogical practices of social movements’, Interface: A journal for and about social movements  6 1 1-24

Teamy, K. and Mandel, M. ( 2014)  The Enlivened Learning Project

4. Adult Education in the Archive

The SSC has been invited to London by the librarian at London Metropolitan University to look at the archive for adult and trade union education in the UK. The archive has material relating to adult and trade union education in Lincoln. This session will prepare for the visit by considering the practical and conceptual issues relating to doing research in an archive.

Suggested reading

Derrida, J. (1995), `Archive Fever. A Freudian Impression’, Diacritics 25 2  9-63

Steedman, C. ( n.d.) ‘Romance in the Archive

Steedman, C. (2001) Dust: The Archive and Cultural History, Rutgers University Press

Smith, B. (1998) The Gender of History:  Men, Women and Archival Practice, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MASS

5. Exhibition Gallery

Scholars will present  work they have done so far on the course to each other for comments and support.

6. Fun Palace

The Fun Palace3 is an event at Croft Street Community Centre on the 20th of December, where the SSC invites local residents and other community based projects to an evening of music, dancing, comedy, food and fun.

  1. Know-How is a term for practical knowledge on how to accomplish something purposeful, combining know-what (science) know-why (reason) and know-who (prosociality) []
  2. The Social Science Centre, Lincoln, is an independent cooperative with no link to any university or higher education provider. []
  3. The Fun Palace is the name of an alternative university developed by the actor, Joan Littlewood, and architect, Cedric Price, in the 1960s in London, England. The Fun Palace was also known as ‘the University of the Streets’ (Mathews, S. (2005) From Agit-Prop to Free Space: The Architecture of Cedric Price, Black Dog Publishing). The Fun Palace was never built  but the ideas on which it was based have made it an inspiration for community education projects ( Neary 2015). []

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