History, Fiction, and Educational Research

The issues which I was addressing in Chap. 15 in terms of the relationship between ‘real’ and ‘fictional’ accounts of events (where the real are visibly and explicitly connected to evidential support and the fictional are not) echo very closely discussions which I recall from my days as an historian about the relationship between history (and especially biography) and fiction—and especially about the standing and character of the historical novel vis-à-vis history as more conventionally understood. It occurred to me that this literature might well offer some clues to our more contemporary concern with the relationship between educational fictions and educational research. Translated into this domain, my question becomes: what, if anything, distinguishes history from fiction, or from the historical novel, and why or for what purposes might one prefer history to these sources—what does history do for us that fiction or the historical novel does not? And will the answer to this question shed light on the parallel issue in social scientific and educational research?