At the close of this saga it is appropriate to remember its limitations. First, it is not the history of education; it is a history of some aspects of some parts of European and American education. Even within that limited context, we have ignored many interesting educators, partly because of available space, partly because of what is possible. We can only write, talk, or think about a past for which there is some kind of information. There is no written or other "material culture" residue for more than 99 percent of the events or people in human history. Many of our predecessors left no clay tablets, pottery, weapons, letters, memorandums, books, scrolls, photographs, sketches, or paintings. Most of what has been written, said, or done has disappeared. Only a minuscule portion of what "really happened" is available for our inferential examination. And of the material that is extant, much has not been examined. Indeed, many rich sources are not catalogued in archives but rather exist in people's attics, in church basements, in small-town newspaper offices, and in other relatively inaccessible places.
The other major factor shaping historical and biographical accounts is that what really happened is not obvious. The story does not leap unaided out of dusty records. Rather, authors choose which story to investigate, and then search available evidence on which to build and with which to document their narratives. They select language, metaphors, and images suited to themselves and to their intended audiences, within the contexts of shared value systems.
The account we've presented is an outgrowth, as history always is, of contemporary preoccupations generally and of our own beliefs particularly. "Significance" is a value judgment. Sometimes we look to the past to enlighten our present, and the present we most want to illuminate is the unresolved one. The problematic and controversial preoccupy our attention. More often, we use the past to legitimate some aspect of the present in which we feel a particular investment. If Kuhn is right, the past and the