I’m reading a book at the moment called Historians’ Fallacies : Toward a Logic of Historical Thought for my research methods class. It talks about logical fallacies that occur in the work of historians, providing extensive examples of each one. This reading echoed back to an article I recently read by Richard Aldrich (“The three duties of the historian of education”, History of Education Vol 32, #2, 2003, pg 133-143). In it Aldrich talks about “academic historians who reconstruct the past in ways influenced by present concerns and educationists who invoke the past in order to apply its lessons to present concerns”.
If there is a difference between educational historians (the educationists that Aldrich talks about) and historians of education (academic historians in the Aldrich quote), is that OK? Some of Fischer’s Fallacies are things that an educational historian can’t help but make due to the inverted emphasis. Moreover failing to make them would be seen as a deficit in writing from an educational perspective.
We live in an scholarly world where relevance is what gets you hired. If you aren’t speaking (directly or indirectly) to the concerns of the day, you are undesirable to the academic world. The question “So What” is raised over every paper, and that seems to need to be answered with a tie to contemporary concerns.
Does that mean that there SHOULDN’T be a difference? Or rather does that bring out the fundamental difference between a social science (education) and a humanities (history) approach; the humanities approach is allowed to be cognizant of but not directly applicable to contemporary issues….
I don’t know the answer, but I’m now wondering as to my place in the world.