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The “Instinct to Teach”


IN a recent interesting communication Barnett1 discusses teaching in man and other mammals. He points out that teaching by punishment is common among animals but believes that the evidence for teaching by encouragement is weak. He further notes that it is difficult to distinguish between “behaviour which promotes learning of skills by imitation, on the one hand, and directed teaching, on the other”, but he does not deal with a third possibility which forms the basis of the educational system of subprimate mammals. This is the creation by the parent of a situation in which the responses of the young automatically lead to their learning.


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EWER, R. The “Instinct to Teach”. Nature 222, 698 (1969).

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