Sunday, 27 June 2010

grounding the research approach

If this blog was about impressing people, it might not have done such a great job. Instead, my aim is to try to be a little 'real' and post up questions and thoughts as I have them. Selfishly, this is useful for me in structuring the process of reflection and seeking contributions along the way - but I hope it's beginning to reflect the values I've prized over years as a community worker and professional in children's services. 

To do this, I can feel a mind map coming on. I'm still at that stage (as you might have guessed) of 'locating' my views and perspectives within a wider theoretical / philosophical landscape. I'm wondering if a visual map of some kind might just help - it's like I've come across labels and theories along the way that all 'make sense' but not I need to get them out of the bag, lay them out and go - 'do they hang together'?

One principle that has been important to me for many years has been to work in a way that allows others to question, develop, be encouraged, be challenged and open to new things - whether that by views on faith, approach to creativity, community development activity or supporting (lifelong) learners. Many of the principles found in the work of Paulo Freire about critical pedagogy fit with that view for me. What effect might this approach have, though?:

  • It might ensure that research generates data from people who are owning or at least participating in an informed and empowered way in the learning process - and would have less to do with the idea we often generate around research 'subjects'.
  • It might focus attention on the ideas of conscious reflection and developing awareness, as opposed to me doing all the 'sense making'. Participants are best placed to do this initially, and I see it my job to empower them to be able to do this first stage of both generating data and theorising (ref. the principles of grounded theory I've previously touched upon).
  • It would involve a thoroughly ethical approach to research, respecting people's experiences, the experience of reflecting and the consequences of individuals 'becoming aware' of why and how they do what they do as they relate to various social objects, most importantly other people.