Mud and hair
an essay on the conditions of educational research
Educational research is of course affected by the economic, institutional and physical contingencies of its time, and in our time it is increasingly driven by them. Much can be said about this; and perhaps it might be suspected that there is a tendency to ignore or suppress how research, and not only in education, is so affected. Such suspicion however risks feeding the strand in the tradition of thought that urges aspiration to Thought Itself, untrammelled by mundane considerations. Since philosophy is prominent in that tradition it is salutary that increased notice is these days being taken of its own rootedness in the material, including textuality, whose acknowledgement is to various degrees found in the writings of, among others, Montaigne, Descartes and Plato himself—particularly salutary in their cases because the tradition so often places them among advocates of Pure Thought and withdrawal from the world. Both that tradition and the relatively new material drivers of academic research need to be treated with a proper irony. That, more than anything, keeps open the possibility of independent thought.
Smith, R. (2014)., Mud and hair: an essay on the conditions of educational research, in P. Smeyers & M. Depaepe (eds.), Educational research, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 133-144.
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