CEPA seminar, Wednesday 18 December, 2-3.30 pm, EDEN005, Hope Park.
Seeing the ‘real thing’: does seeing historical artefacts provide a knowledge gain? (Clare Jarmy, Bedales School)
Abstract: Normally, school students learn academic subjects in classrooms, but it is best practice to, now-and-again, take them on trips. Often, it is then that they come face-to-face with ‘the real thing’, an historical artefact. Intuitively, it seems that these are excellent learning experiences for students, but what role, if any, does the artefact itself play? Does a student acquire knowledge from seeing ‘the real thing’? If we think of knowledge as propositional, the artefact seems to offer little, yet at the same time, seeing the artefact is often the reason for taking the trip in the first place. We are hence in a dilemma: the artefact seems at once to be central and irrelevant to the learning experience. By drawing on RG Collingwood’s notion of historical events as having outsides and insides, and Heidegger’s understanding of ‘things’ as having ‘worlds’, we are able to think of the artefact as extended beyond its physical phenomena. In going to see ‘the real thing’, a student is able to piece together the historical thought behind it, something that makes her an historian.