Evolved to teach

Human culture, the skills and information passed from generation to generation, has allowed us to build on the foundation of our remarkable genetics. Culture, by definition, is not inherited at birth, but must be learned and taught. And human beings are natural teachers.

Where other apes have a more passive learning and teaching style, humans actively want to know the “right” and “wrong” ways to do something.

Here, one chimp simply tolerates another’s close observation as he uses a machine to get a treat.

But watch how, after he is shown the “right” way to play a game, a little boy actively corrects a puppet who is doing it the “wrong” way.

Our compulsion to teach combines with our talent for learning to ensure that information can be passed on accurately from person to person and generation to generation, accumulating into the planet’s most extensive and complex culture by far.

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Driven to abstraction