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WIREs Cogn Sci
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The human nature of culture and education

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Human cultures educate children with different strategies. Ancient hunter‐gatherers 200,000 years ago, with bodies and brains like our own, in bands of a hundred well‐known individuals or less, depended on spontaneous cooperative practice of knowledge and skills in a natural world. Before creating language, they appreciated beautiful objects and music. Anthropologists observe that similar living cultures accept that children learn in playful ‘intent participation’. Large modern industrial states with millions of citizens competing in a global economy aim to instruct young people in scientific concepts and the rules of literacy and numeracy deemed important for employment with elaborate machines. Our psychobiological theories commonly assume that an infant starts with a body needing care and emotional regulation and a mind that assimilates concepts of objects by sensorimotor action and requires school instruction in rational principles after several years of cognitive development. Evidence from archeology and evolutionary anthropology indicates that Homo sapiens are born with an imaginative and convivial brain ready for the pleasure of shared invention and with a natural sense of beauty in handmade objects and music. In short, there are innate predispositions for culture for practicing meaningful habits and artful performances that are playfully inventive and seductive for companionship in traditions, and soon capable of grasping the clever purpose of shared tasks and tools. This knowledge of inventive human nature with esthetic and moral sensibilities has important implications for educational policy in our schools. WIREs Cogn Sci 2014, 5:173–192. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1276 This article is categorized under: Cognitive Biology > Evolutionary Roots of Cognition Psychology > Emotion and Motivation Philosophy > Knowledge and Belief
The motives of a human SELF and its BODY, which is motivated to engage with physical OBJECTS in the world, and with other PERSONS. Emotions evaluate the pleasure of discovery with objects, esthetically, and morally in affectionate attachments or friendships with persons. Different motives lead to complex experiences of shared meaning and the development of common cultural understanding. All life functions develop, and their study gives rise to different domains of psychology.
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Sleeping Beauty and her Prince after the show and the final bow.
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Emily's dancing as a Good Fairy, and Polly and Hope as Bad Fairy and Evil Bird.
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The 6‐year‐old girls experiment with musical instruments and dancing, making their own creative projects, some inspired by well‐known stories or the media.
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Development of the brain from before birth and growth rates of the cerebral hemispheres from birth to adolescence and through schooling, showing alternating periods of rapid growth in right and left cortical regions involved in sharing relationships and experience of the natural and artificial worlds. Note the surge of the left hemisphere from 3 to 5 years, when vocabulary is learned and two periods where the right hemisphere is ascendant, in infancy and in early adolescence, when new affective relationships are formed. Girls develop through these changes earlier than boys, particularly in puberty.
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Growth of regions of the left hemisphere in infancy and early childhood, all of which are important in communication and cultural learning.
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Developments over the first 18 months of infancy chart the growing collaboration with a mother revealed by analysis of natural play, with each other or with objects. See Table for a summary of the growth of sensory and motor abilities and developments in communication.
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A 6‐week‐old baby takes part in a protoconversation with her mother, in a recording room at Edinburgh University. They share the rhythm and expressive tones of vocalizations, taking turns with closely coupled utterances, which are numbered, that change in excitement, making a ‘narrative’, with ‘introduction’, ‘development’, ‘climax’, and ‘resolution’. These stages of the story are reflected in the content of the mother's speech. The pitch plot of their voices explores the octave above Middle C. The baby's responsive sounds are shown in boxes.
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A 4‐day‐old girl shows intent regard for her grandmother, who is speaking to her, and an expressive body, with an attentive mouth and asymmetric hand gestures.
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Cognitive Biology > Evolutionary Roots of Cognition
Psychology > Emotion and Motivation
Philosophy > Knowledge and Belief

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