Knowing What You Don’t Know

The Traditional Teacher


Michael Fordham has blogged recently about what is needed to discriminate between historical sources. Without specific knowledge about the historical period with which they deal, no amount of generic ‘source analysis skills’ will help us. Indeed, the skill of discriminating between reliable and unreliable information in any area is based on our knowledge of that area. Once again, generic skills turn out to be a myth, and what is needed is domain specific knowledge. Fordham used two sources to demonstrate his point. One dealt with Nazi Germany, a topic with which many of his readers will have some familiarity, while the other concerned seventh century Britain, about which most of us are rather more ignorant.

What was so clever about Fordham’s approach here was that he gave us, his readers, the experience of ignorance. It’s worth reflecting further on what this is. In my own field, I know a reasonable…

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About Anthony Radice

An English teacher of English in England.
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