Learning as a Microhistorical Process

Authored by: Christina Toren

The Routledge International Handbook of Learning

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  May  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415571302
eBook ISBN: 9780203357385
Adobe ISBN: 9781136598562


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Anthropologists argue about the objectives of the discipline: what they are and should be. Even so, most anthropologists would agree that what we strive for is valid explanations of the extraordinary variety of human being. I use ‘human being’ in the singular here in order to emphasise that what we humans have in common is precisely our humanity; how that humanity evinces itself in the world, however, takes as many forms as there are people. This is no mere truism. It is important to stress both our common humanity and the uniqueness of any given human being in any time or place because how we characterise this conjunction is bound to structure our theory of learning. The unified model of human being that I describe briefly here is, I argue, good for anthropologists (and by the same token, good for other human scientists) because it entails an idea of learning as a microhistorical process and in so doing provides for the fact that our common humanity can only evince itself in and through the uniqueness of particular persons.

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