Friday, 23 May 2008

change of plan

We've just been involved in another focus group, this time an established group of more than 2 years, and we began as usual with the semi-structured questions. But found that the group had other plans and wanted to discuss their concerns about the future of their group.

So we listened to their concerns, wrote down their achievements and questions that they had for the 'powers that be' on a flipchart and then in a letter that they could adapt as required.

This was an interesting development and although we didn't manage to work through our list of questions we did get some answers in our research into learning. We found out that this group were able to speak out about their concerns, they were articulate and expressive in listing the reasons as to why the group should continue. And they had an impressive amount of evidence as to the information learnt and the social benefits. It demonstrated that the learning needs were being met and that there was reflection on this.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

muffins uneaten

Just to let you know that we did not have anyone coming along for the focus group at the centre, we'll just have to take the muffins home ...

But this is OK as it's not always easy to go along to a new group meeting, people are busy and already attend their own groups. It's easier to meet people where they're at. I've been visiting groups that already meet for learning to find out their thoughts on the learning they've had, how they accessed it and what they would like to do in the future. Common themes include the need for guidance, help with looking at the choices available for careers that people are thinking of in the future, when their children are a bit older or to enable them to apply for more skilled jobs. Another highlighted area is Scottish culture and history for the learners who have come to live in Scotland from another country. Creative writing opportunities is another theme - short story writing, poetry and being able to write articles for the press - practising these activities also helps with their grammar and spelling. And increases self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.

I must have met now with over 50 people individually, local residents and workers, to get a feel for the Muirton and Fairfield communities, their experiences of living and working in these areas, and their hopes for the future. Many of the community activists in Muirton are in more than one committee or group and are keen to involve others and to see change in their community. Fairfield has a core of residents that use the centre and involve people from other areas in their activities. This is a 'tale of two cities' - both regeneration areas but at different stages of the journey.

"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known." Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

waiting

Hi there - we're at Fairfield Neighbourhood Centre at this moment waiting for folk to appear for the pre-arranged focus group on learning - it's now 10.10am, the group was meant to start at 9.45am - the muffins and chocolate fingers are waiting to be eaten - looks like we may have to eat them ourselves ....