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ERIC Number: EJ1014793
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-May
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2680
Is It Time for Another Historiographical Revolution?
Gaither, Milton
History of Education Quarterly, v53 n2 p177-183 May 2013
As the author of this article read through the fascinating ruminations of Drs. Albisetti, Finkelstein, Thelin, and Urban, it seemed to him that two basic points emerge, one conceptual and one methodological. Conceptually, Albisetti, Finkelstein, and Urban are asking historians of education to move away from national frames of reference to either a global, transcontinental purview (Albisetti and Finkelstein) or a small, local one (Urban). The two alternatives become complementary as we read on, however, for many examples given of such globalism are actually case studies on a small scale--the lives of single individuals in Finkelstein's case, and of single institutions in Albisetti's. Similarly, Urban's localism becomes the starting point for comparative history between one location (Alabama) and another (Georgia), which in turn expands into regional comparisons (the American South and other parts of the country) and institutional ones (Catholic and public systems). The portmanteau "globalocal," or the commonplace "think globally, act locally" seem to capture this conceptual recommendation nicely. The key methodological recommendation to emerge from these texts in this author's view is the call for increased data collection, especially quantitative data. This theme is most powerfully expressed in Thelin's Cliometric dream to create massive datasets that do for the history of American higher education what HEGIS has been doing since the 1970s. Urban would love to do the same for the demographics and life courses of American teachers. Finkelstein's longstanding emphasis on the oral history of teachers--"collecting stories, stockpiling memories, creating archives, and accumulating information"--is inspired by the same concern. Albisetti goes out of his way to recommend a solitary quantitative study published back in 1988. In the present article, this author makes two comments about these two points, beginning with the methodological and concluding with the conceptual. He notes that all four authors point to the importance of amassing good evidence for our work, and they all suggest places where more evidence and more work is needed, be it local studies of teachers, budgetary, and student enrollment patterns in nineteenth and early twentieth century institutions of higher education, or preserving living voices before time silences them forever. The author expands this insight by examining three gaps in the American literature. These gaps are: (1) the gap covering the periods between the first North American settlements by humans and the late nineteenth century; (2) the history of private education, especially of non-Catholic private schools; and (3) the gap in the telling of Asian-American educational history. Finally, Gaither addresses the conceptual concern, namely, a vision of what the new metanarrative of educational history might look like in the future, perhaps one whose narrative core is built around the transcontinental migrations of peoples to this part of North America and the results of those people's endeavors to educate their own and others' children. (Contains 2 figures and 7 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A