Directors of the School: Antonio M. Battro and Kurt W. Fischer
Directors of the Course: Sidney Strauss and Elena Pasquinelli
Program officer: María Lourdes Majdalani
How to learn about teaching
Despite a growing interest in the theoretical importance of pedagogy, or teaching, in human cultural learning and social development, the form and function of human teaching behaviors outside of Western classrooms is not well understood. In fact, cultural anthropologists continue to argue that teaching is rare outside the West, while researchers in child development and psychology assume that pedagogy is a human universal. The present study uses a novel typology of teaching behavior that includes both Western-style classroom teaching and more subtle, everyday teaching behaviors. These behaviors are united as “teaching” in that they all evolved as behaviors that facilitate learning in others, yet they differ in the specific learning problems they solve. The evidence I present shows that informal teaching is present and commonplace in these Fijian villages, and that the costs and benefits to teachers and pupils pattern teaching behaviors within and between relationships. This study lays the theoretical and methodological groundwork for future comparative studies of variation in teaching behaviors across human populations, social relationships, and the life course.