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RUNNING HEAD: Stoecker Reaction

Cochran,1

Katie Cochran
Spring 2016
LEAD 7100
Dr. Griswold
Stoecker Reaction Paper

RUNNING HEAD: Stoecker Reaction

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When I first read Lyn Tett’s book Community Education, Learning and
Development, I felt like I left the book with a positive understanding of community
education and I felt fully prepared to walk into a conversation with someone and share
with them what I learned. Then I read Myles Horton’s book, The Long Haul, and felt
like I could walk into a conversation, share with them what community education is and
then engage them in a conversation about hands on community education dealing with
the school of the Highlands and how strongly the impact of the school was for a large
group of people. But then, I read Research Methods for Community Change by
Randy Stoecker, and I now feel prepared to engage in conversation, give historical facts
and events concerning community education as well as prepared to work in community
education on my own research. The text allowed the reader to take a look at the works
that have been performed along with the background knowledge necessary to perform
this work. Stoecker offers a lay out and information, but as he states on page 233, “this
is definitely not a book for the answer... I hope you have developed a way of
determining its usefulness, then it has already become useful for you” (Stoecker, 2013).
While much of the book is highly useful to myself and other readers, one of the
chapters and sections that will stand out to me and be highly useful as I work with my
personal research is chapter four, Head and Hand Together. My research is dealing with
the notion that students at universities, specifically the University of Memphis for this
project, feel that they aren’t offered the freedom of speech or ability to fully express
themselves that past collegiate generations have had. As a recent graduate and now
masters student, I found this section to be useful to me, not only as a student, but as a
researcher with this topic. The head (or research) is my interviews with current and past

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students and educators, and my research that is done on the subject. The hand (or
action) is the action that I feel encouraged to take or encourage students to take in an
effort to reverse the trend if one is found. Stoecker also adds in one more piece, the
heart. The heart is what keeps us going in our research and allows us to maintain
motivation and encouragement. Stoecker’s fourth chapter is truly when the knowledge
surrounding community education became a research reality for myself and my
research.
Perhaps one of the seemingly easiest aspects of community research and
education is diagnosing a problem to investigate in a community. While it seems easy, I
have found that diagnosing the problem has been one of the hardest parts of my
research thus far. It took me much longer to locate my exact question that I am
researching than it did to locate people to interview and to interview them. Chapter five
would have been helpful to read prior to diagnosing my problem, but it served a great
role in the fact that it challenged what I previously thought about diagnosing a
community problem and using diagnosis prior to entering a community. He speaks
candidly about this a little in chapter four, but continues it on pages 104-105 when he
discusses the DSNI going into a neighborhood in the Roxbury in Boston. As the text
states, the community that they entered became weary of these “strangers” coming in
and felt invaded, not helped.
This challenged my view of community education and what takes place prior to
the community being met and worked with. Prior to this course, I would have imagined
that if you were a community organization walking into a community in need, human
nature would cause the community to trust and appreciate the work coming their way.

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Instead, the story shared by Stoecker allowed me to recognize the importance of fully
diagnosing the problem in a community prior to entering the community.
I used this knowledge when I interviewed students for my PAR step 1.2. I didn’t
go to them as a masters student needing information for research. I instead met with
them, sat with them, talked with them, and never allowed them to think that I was
invading their space for information that would later be used against them. I instead let
them know that I personally don’t have a strong opinion on the subject, I am instead
trying to find the opinion through my own research and interviews with them. I was
impressed that, even though the interview could have gone awry, due to Stoecker’s
description and importance placed on diagnosing the community and how to interact
with the community and my preconceptions being challenged in that department, I was
able to avoid that roadblock from appearing.
When I began Stoecker’s text, the first few pages struck me as a typical textbook
that would be hard to get through. As soon as I read “The Goose Story”, my idea
surrounding the text changed and I began reading the text no longer as a textbook, but
as a guideline to my personal research. I found the text to be challenging at times,
entertaining at other times, and overall eye opening. It was the perfect text to follow up
Myles Horton’s text, as it offered the educational knowledge behind what Horton offered
in storytelling and experience. As I continue my participatory action research, I will
reflect and remind myself of the wise words of Stoecker, and that while the text didn’t
give me the answer, it led me to finding my personal answers that will continue to
shape my community research and education.

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Source
Stoecker, R. (2013). Research methods for community change: A project-based
approach (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.