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The theory of natural pedagogy is an important focus of research on the evolution and development of cultural learning. It proposes that we are born pupils; that human children genetically inherit a package of psychological adaptations that make them receptive to teaching. In this article, I first examine the components of the package-eye contact, contingencies, infant-directed speech, gaze cuing, and rational imitation-asking in each case whether current evidence indicates that the component is a reliable feature of infant behavior and a genetic adaptation for teaching. I then discuss three fundamental insights embodied in the theory: Imitation is not enough for cumulative cultural inheritance, the extra comes from blind trust, and tweaking is a powerful source of cognitive change. Combining the results of the empirical review with these insights, I argue that human receptivity to teaching is founded on nonspecific genetic adaptations for social bonding and social learning and acquires its species- and functionally specific features through the operation of domain-general processes of learning in sociocultural contexts. We engage, not in natural pedagogy, but in cultural pedagogy.

Original publication

DOI

10.1177/1745691615621276

Type

Journal article

Journal

Perspect Psychol Sci

Publication Date

03/2016

Volume

11

Pages

280 - 295

Keywords

cultural evolution, evolution of cognition, imitation, infant development, pedagogy, teaching, Biological Evolution, Culture, Eye Movements, Humans, Imitative Behavior, Infant, Learning, Models, Psychological, Students