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The past as more than prologue: a call for historical research

Sonya Douglass Horsford (Graduate School of Education, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA)
Diana D'Amico (Graduate School of Education, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 14 September 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to argue that historical research methods offer an innovative and powerful way to examine, frame, explain, and disrupt the study of contemporary issues in educational leadership. More specifically, the authors examine how historical methodology might recast some of the questions educational leadership researchers presently engage and how the act of “doing history” might simultaneously lead to new research agendas and social change.

Design/methodology/approach

This conceptual paper provides a discussion of the explanatory and disruptive power of historical research methods and how intentional ignorance of uncomfortable historical realities, such as racist institutional structures and practices, undermines present-day efforts to advance equity in schools. Using the mainstream achievement gap narrative as an example, the authors consider the ways in which historical scholarship can effectively disrupt current conceptions of educational inequality and opportunity in the USA.

Findings

The paper suggests researchers close the “history gap” by engaging historical research methods in ways that better ground, contextualize, and disrupt the often ahistorical and uncritical ways the field frames present-day challenges like the achievement gap.

Originality/value

This paper explores the explanatory and disruptive power of historical research as a mode of inquiry in education leadership.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Both authors contributed equally to the preparation of this manuscript.

Citation

Horsford, S.D. and D'Amico, D. (2015), "The past as more than prologue: a call for historical research", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 29 No. 7, pp. 863-873. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEM-05-2015-0062

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited