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Variability, Flexibility and Constraint: Towards the Evolutionary Roots of Teaching

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Abstract

This article considers the evolutionary roots of education in the hominin lineage drawing on the variability selection hypothesis. The variability selection hypothesis emphasizes adaptation to a variable environment and flexible behavior. However, the archaeological record indicates that there are some structuring factors including learned technical skill and knowledge, trends in the progressive development of technology, and the contextual influence on the adaptive advantage conferred by learning versus trial and error. Thus, the flexibility of hominin behavior includes both the ability to develop novel responses to changing conditions and to structure behavior within constraints. It is argued that negotiating between the capacity for flexibility and for behavior based on learned structures is fundamental to the practice of education.

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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