Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Teaching as an inherent instinct

I am sympathetic to the underlying proposition. From The Teaching Instinct by Cecilia I. Calero, A. P. Goldin, and M. Sigman. From the Abstract:
Teaching allows human culture to exist and to develop. Despite its significance, it has not been studied in depth by the cognitive neurosciences. Here we propose two hypotheses to boost the claim that teaching is a human instinct, and to expand our understanding of how teaching occurs as a dynamic bi-directional relation within the teacher-learner dyad. First, we explore how children naturally use ostensive communication when teaching; allowing them to be set in the emitter side of natural pedagogy. Then, we hypothesize that the capacity to teach may precede to even have a mature metacognition and, we argue that a teacher will benefit from the interaction with her student, improving her understanding on both contents of knowledge: her own and her student’s. Thus, we propose that teaching may be the driving force of metacognitive development and may be occurring as an instinct from very early ages.
I don't have access to the gated paper so I do not have a full picture of the entire context of their argument but I think the implied proposition is well worth investigating. I take the proposition to be that there is a sociobiological imperative to teach, that teaching is mutually beneficial (both teacher and student), and that teaching is more than a skill.

That proposition dovetails with numerous books out lately emphasizing the heritable element of behaviors as well as books about the self-evolution inherent in culture as an exogenous factor driving evolutionary change, especially since the Neolithic Revolution 10-15,000 years ago. (See On The Origin of Stories by Brian Boyd, Darwin's Unfinished Symphony by Kevin N. Laland, and The Secret of Our Success by Joseph Henrich for three books exploring the connection between culture and evolution.)

We are so desperate for tactical educational improvements that most research is on a wide and ever shifting portfolio of education fads, all within the constraints of the political systems and the variety of professional guilds related to education. The respect for and desire for good education is huge; the respect for our current educational institutions and practices, markedly less so.

The inherent and symbiotic relationship of mutual teaching/learning might be an interesting and revealing angle to explore.

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