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previous section: "a. What Is Humanities-Oriented Research in Education?"


b. Purposes of Humanities-Oriented Research in Education


The purposes of humanities-oriented studies have changed in concert with the historical contexts in which they have been embedded. The traditional humanities have their roots in the classical Greek idea of paideia, a form of general education designed to prepare young men for citizenship. The Renaissance humanists distinguished studies in the humanities from studies of divinity. By the 19th century, the humanities had come to be identified with a domain of intellectual activity distinct from the sciences and, by the 20th century, a domain distinct from the social sciences as well.

Throughout its history, humanities-oriented studies have retained, as a central purpose, the exploration and understanding of forms of human existence. In pursuit of this general purpose, humanities-oriented research undertakes investigations into the concept of self, knowledge and its grounds, the arts and their appreciation; the relationships reason vis a vis emotion; the ethical life; the just society, and the characteristics of the good citizen. Humanities-oriented research in education tailors such investigations to fit its more specific domain, as in how reason and emotion are represented in school practices, and what role education plays and ought to play in the formation of the citizenry.

Woven into the fabric of humanities-oriented research in education, as it is in humanities-oriented research more generally, are various forms of criticism. A fundamental purpose of such criticism is to render problematic unrecognized assumptions, implications, and consequences of various approaches to education practice, policy, and research, as well as to appropriately challenge what these approaches take for granted as beyond questioning. In this way, humanities-oriented researchers in education often seek to foster dissonance and discomfort with conventional education practice, policy, and research; and, in many cases, to suggest better alternatives.


next section: "c. Content of Humanities-Oriented Research in Education"

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