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Learning from Others

Written by: Bill Sherman on Friday, 19 June 2009, 3:32 PM

As humans, we learn from the successes and failures of others. As a child, we might put a hand on the stove, even  though someone warned us that we would get burnt.

However, as we get older, we quickly learn that we do not need to test every single possibility ourselves. We can learn from others’ successes and failures.

Well, it turns out that animals can learn in very similar ways. Discover magazine reports on research where stickleback fish have been observed to learn to locate food by observing others.

I have spent a lot of time during the past couple of weeks considering the intersection of learning and social constructivism (which essentially represents learning from others.)

We often talk about teaching “best practices.” However, in the real world, complex situations rarely align with simplified models. Instead of teaching “best practices,” there’s a strong argument for applying the principles of carefully-constructed “error-exposure” training.

We need people to learn how to think and react to complex and rapidly changing situations where they may only have a few minutes to make decisions (or may be acting on partial information). More on error-exposure learning in the next blog post.

Have a great weekend!

One Response to “Learning from Others”

  1. Fruit Flies and Loneliness: Taking Cues from Others | aha-moments Says:

    […] learning appears in more than human beings. Many animals, including0 stickleback fish display the behavior. Now, scientists believe that fruit flies are capable of social learning. […]

    January 17th, 2010 9:28 pm

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