Scratch Notes

The very nature of participant-observation as a technique makes it all but impossible for the observer as she participates to take detailed notes about the event in the real time of the occurence of the event. The most that can be done, in most cases, is to "scratch" down words or phrases that, hopefully, will jog the memory when, later, one writes down a fuller, narrative, account of the event.

The following is the full set of scratch notes from two hours in a Manhattan alternative high school. I was following the principal around and jotting down a few words here and there on a yellow pad.

Later in the day I used these notes to write narrative field notes that you should consult to compare. I also collected some documents, particularly the guide for NYC high schools/








October 4, 1996