Primates in the Classroom: An Evolutionary Perspective on Children's Education

Primates in the Classroom: An Evolutionary Perspective on Children's Education

Primates in the Classroom: An Evolutionary Perspective on Children's Education

Primates in the Classroom: An Evolutionary Perspective on Children's Education

Excerpt

Let it be born in mind how infinitely complex and close-fitting are the mutual relations of all organic beings to each other and to their physical conditions of life.

-- Charles Darwin, Origin of Species

CHILDREN'S EDUCATION AND HUMAN EVOLUTION

In the United States, as in all modern industrial societies, the schools are called upon to perform many of the functions that used to be performed by families and the society at large. Formal education is already a crucial component of a child's socialization in our culture, and there is a trend to begin schooling children at an increasingly early age. It is common knowledge in our society that, if schools are to meet this challenge, they will have to be reformed, but there is no agreement about the direction these reforms should take. I argue in this book that schools must develop specific methods for dealing with certain biologically based social and emotional needs of children. Ideally, formal education in the United States should be reformed along the following lines:

The schools should stop forcing all children to master the same set of abstract reasoning skills in the same ways and in the same time frame.

Children should be allowed to proceed at their own pace, even if this means that they will be learning with children of different ages.

The schools must begin the educational process for all children with activities that focus on natural social relationships and manual skills that all can master, that require cooperative activity, and . . .

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