Navigation Links
MU study finds connection between evolution, classroom learning

COLUMBIA, Mo. Over thousands of years, humans have evolved to naturally understand things like facial expressions and social interactions. But a University of Missouri researcher has found there is an ever-widening gap between what humans can naturally learn and what they need to learn to be successful adults in today's modern society. Schools have traditionally helped bridge the gap between evolution and new knowledge, but in the U.S. more may need to be done.

"Schools need to push children to learn things that they do not do naturally, which is more important as our knowledge of the world continues to expand," said David Geary, Curators' Professor of Psychological Sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science. "Learning is not always going to be fun and children should not expect it to be. Attempting to engage children by making activities fun, causes those activities to become more similar to what students are already doing naturally and can limit new learning."

Geary found that one reason U.S. students may be behind students in other countries in subjects like science and math is because American schools have moved away from traditional practices where students learn information through repetition. Instead, U.S. schools often use more group and social interactions to teach topics that can be challenging.

"From an evolutionary perspective, what we are designed to do and what culture says we now have to do, is very different," Geary said. "We should not expect what comes naturally to us to be the best way to learn something new."

Geary found that humans have evolved to naturally learn basic skills, like social interactions, but because of the fast expansion of new academic knowledge, humans are not yet equipped to easily understand things like chemistry, mathematics or physics. Humans prefer to engage in peer relationships because of natural bias that helps them learn about and influence their peer groups. While the need to learn about others now comes naturally, mastering things like linear algebra, does not, because it is a recent cultural innovation.

"Learning mechanisms in humans have evolved to support the transfer of culturally useful knowledge," Geary said. "However, we are now at a point in human history where the abilities needed to function in a high-tech, modern society have surpassed the capacity of those simple learning mechanisms."


Contact: Jeffrey Beeson
University of Missouri-Columbia

Related biology news :

1. Childhood obesity indicates greater risk of school absenteeism, Penn study reveals
2. A study by the MUHC and McGill University opens a new door to understanding cancer
3. Study begins to reveal clues to the cause and progression of sepsis
4. Clones on task serve greater good, evolutionary study shows
5. New study warns limited carbon market puts 20 percent of tropical forest at risk
6. New study examines how rearing environment can alter navigation
7. Study links cat disease to flame retardants in furniture and to pet food
8. New continent and species discovered in Atlantic study
9. Study shows link between alcohol consumption and hiv disease progression
10. Feeling hot, hot, hot: New study suggests ways to control fever-induced seizures
11. Study finds environmental tests help predict hospital-acquired Legionnaires disease risk
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/17/2015)... Pressure BioSciences, Inc. (OTCQB: PBIO) ("PBI" and ... of broadly enabling, pressure cycling technology ("PCT")-based sample preparation ... it has received gross proceeds of $745,000 from an ... "Offering"), increasing the total amount raised to date in ... are expected in the near future. ...
(Date:11/12/2015)...   Growing need for low-cost, easy to ... paving the way for use of biochemical sensors ... in clinical, agricultural, environmental, food and defense applications. ... medical applications, however, their adoption is increasing in ... emphasis on improving product quality and growing need ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... DUBLIN , Nov. 09, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... announced the addition of the "Global ... to their offering. --> ... "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... Research and Markets ( ) ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:  AEZS; TSX: ... prospects remain fundamentally strong and highlights the following ... received DSMB recommendation to continue the ZoptEC Phase ... the final interim efficacy and safety data ... men with heavily pretreated castration- and Taxane-resistant prostate ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... November 25, 2015 The ... is a professional and in-depth study on the ...      (Logo: ) , ... industry including definitions, classifications, applications and industry chain ... the international markets including development trends, competitive landscape ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... FAR HILLS, N.J. (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... University, as the recipient of the 2016 USGA Green Section Award. Presented annually since ... of golf through his or her work with turfgrass. , Clarke, of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015 /CNW/ - iCo Therapeutics ("iCo" or ... financial results for the quarter ended September 30, ... Canadian dollars and presented under International Financial Reporting ... ," said Andrew Rae , President ... iCo-008 are not only value enriching for this ...
Breaking Biology Technology: