"... and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do."
Behavioral researchers define teaching very specifically. First, of course, a teacher must have pupils. Then the teacher must be less efficient in doing whatever he is doing than he normally would be if he were alone, as a means of showing the pupils how to do the task. And finally, the pupils must learn the task more quickly than they would on their own.
By that definition, humans, of course, are teachers. Among animals, only a species of ant meets this definition of teaching. But now researchers from the University of Cambridge in England say that meerkats also qualify as teachers. They found that experienced hunters will take young, inexperienced pups with them when they hunt. They will let the youngsters watch them as they catch prey. Of course, when they catch some small prey, the youngsters will vocally beg for a handout. However, only 35 percent of those handouts are served to the youngsters dead. The rest of the time they have to learn how to subdue the caught prey themselves. On the other hand, older, more experienced pups received already-killed handouts only 10 percent of the time. Further tests involving live and dead prey show that those given live prey could learn to subdue it in only three days.
Despite the researchers' presupposition that teaching evolved, God is still the One that teaches the teachers.
Notes: Science News, 7/15/06, p. 36, S. Milius, "Live Prey for Dummies."
Photo: Courtesy of Ashleigh Thompson. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
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