Yesterday was a minor fail in an interview attempt…
I went to go attempt to interview a principal at a school (most of the contacts I have contacted ahead of time are teachers and students, less officials). Unsurprisingly, he was not okay with having his voice or face recorded.
“You have to understand that if I agree to speak on tape or video, I will be representing all of the higher-ups—that’s the central education committee. I mean, it’s not like this is a contentious issue, politics aren’t involved, so it’s not a problem, I just need to be sure they’ll even be okay with me representing them.”
Education + politics… an issue for another blog entry…
I did end up talking to him for about half and hour. I didn’t follow my pre-planned Interview Schedule while talking to him, so I did not have many specific questions for him. Before I left the school, he told me that my topic is so broad and that he recommends I focus it for more helpful responses.
I had already thought this through ahead of time, but the reminder is still nice. On my actual Interview Schedule, I have the goal of the interviews with officials written at the top of the page to make sure that I anchor my interview—so that I don’t forget why it is I originally started this project. The Schedule is structured, but still pretty open, since I definitely want to give the room for new ideas and interesting ideas to come out; however, within this open structure, I figured the question, “How does change in the education system come about?” should remain at the top of my mind. Recently, with all the conversations I’ve been having, I’ve started to re-taste a nice big dose of bureaucracy, bureaucracy, bureaucracy.
Educational bureaucracy is alive and well, huge and unavoidable, but is not the main point of my project. I'll talk more about this in my next entry, but the point is, bureaucracy is not going to tie me down.
Clarification: I am not simply researching the strengths and weaknesses of the education system. I am trying to learn the perspective of students on the strengths and weaknesses of the education system, about policymaking on the part of the officials, and from the teachers, a balancing force for the perspectives on strengths and weaknesses.
I am going to go to the district office right now to see if I can talk to the head of the district and hopefully get some sort of officiating materials (introductory letter?) to aid my attempts at interviews with “officials”. Good thing I printed out a letter with Watson letterhead and Watson official signatures ahead of time… Or else the suspicion would probably be an even more significant obstacle.
Wish me luck!
btw, since i could record the principal, i instead recorded some random kid at a little restaurant instead. Here are the low-q still that I captured from my flipcam.