Originally posted by sh76
While I appreciate that you are an academic and perhaps an educator, I am also an educator.
In my experience, you don't educate people by insinuating their lack of knowledge and insight, implying that they need a statement to be "dumbed down" for their benefit and using the phrase "nearly illiterate" in reference to them.
I get what you're ...[text shortened]... rying to do with that quote, but I think it could have been done with a bit less edginess.
"I get what you're trying to do with that quote, but I think it could have been
done with a bit less edginess."
I would not have said it like that in a classroom, but I never have experienced
anything in a classroom that's much like some of the usual trolls in this forum.
I don't expect these trolls to listen seriously to me anyway. How would you
respond if a troll acted as though simply reading a 'Law for Dummies' book
should make him as well-qualified as someone who went through law school?
Can an amateur (someone who's not professionally trained) make a useful
contribution to history? Yes, if one understands one's limits and takes care
not to go beyond them. Popular narrative history, such as compiling testimonies
from veterans about their wartime experiences, is something that does not
require much training. The problem arises if one assumes that everything said
by these veterans (who often have lapses of memory, tend to embellish, and
sometimes lie) must be literally true. One has to seek corroboration if possible
from documents or other eyewitness accounts. So when a veteran claims,
"I saw the enemy's torpedo strike my ship, and I saved the ship! I was there.",
and there's no corroboration that the enemy even had fired a torpedo at that ship,
I would be disinclined to accept that veteran's testimony at face value.
In some cases, however, it's unrealistic to expect much corroboration of personal
testimonies. I have done some research into some issues of rape in wartime.
When an elderly woman reveals (and it's obviously painful for her) that she was
raped by enemy soldiers long ago, I don't expect her to provide a document
certifying that she was raped and I usually don't expect to find any surviving
witnesses who had observed her being raped. Depending upon my (admittedly
subjective) assessment of her credibility, I would have to decide how much of
what she said to believe. On the other hand, I have come across more than
a few cases of women who claimed, "It's true that every other woman in my
building (or area) was raped, but, by a miracle, I managed to avoid being raped."
I suspect that the existence of so many 'miracles' is motivated by the continuing
stigma for a woman of admitting to being a rape victim.
For example, Lyn MacDonald is a British woman (without any academic training
in history) who has done useful work in writing popular histories based upon
compiling the accounts of veterans of the First World War. As far as I can infer,
she does not imagine that she would be the equivalent of Hew Strachan.