When I was looking for a research topic for my MEd thesis, I went for advice to one of the senior psychology lecturers. We had a short discussion and then he formulated a penetrating question, ‘Are you basically a cautious, play-it-safe type of person, or do you like to take risks?’ When I mention that I went on to do a thesis on the history of teacher training in Scotland between 1906 and 1939 readers will gather the answer I gave.