Common origins, common futures: reflections on identity and difference in education
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The history of human evolution is fascinating and complex indeed. Modern science as revealed by the disciplines of archaeology, paleontology, and genetics presents strong evidence about the common origins of humankind. Dispersal from the birthplace over millennia has produced a mosaic of identities that are cultural artefacts or social constructs and determined more by psychology, sociology and ideology than by biology. The environmentally induced differences that largely shape identity have often been the source of conflict and wars. The questions asked are: Are conflicts and wars natural and immutable human dispositions? And, how can the negative aspects of identity and difference be managed in such a manner that the proclivity towards conflicts and self-annihilation is minimised or undermined through the education process? The articles in this volume grapple with the issues of commonality, difference and identity from different perspectives and situational circumstances using the education domain as an instance of reflection and action. Through the learning process, a healthy understanding of identity that is not parochial or chauvinistic, and tolerance of difference can be achieved. Healthy learning environments can play an important role in promoting a better, sophisticated understanding of human nature and that difference in whatever form it is manifested is a matter of social expedience - not fundamental.
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