[Paper spotlight] Who teaches children to forage? Exploring the primacy of child-to-child teaching among Hadza and BaYaka hunter-gatherers of Tanzania and Congo

This paper was presented by Sheina Lew-Levy  in the session Ages and Stages at the 2018 AAA annual meeting. Sheina is a PhD student in the department of psychology at the University of Cambridge. This paper was co-authored by Stephen M. Kissler (junior research fellow in mathematics at University of Cambridge), Adam H. Boyette (postdoctoral fellow in the Thompson Writing Program, Duke University), Alyssa N. Crittenden (professor of anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas), Barry S. Hewlett (professor of anthropology, Washington State University), and Michael E. Lamb (professor of psychology, University of Cambridge).

Abstract: Teaching is cross-culturally widespread but few studies have considered children as teachers as well as learners. This is surprising, since forager children spend much of their time playing and foraging in child-only groups, and thus, have access to many potential child teachers. Using the Social Relations Model, we examined the prevalence of child-to-child teaching using focal follow data from 35 Hadza and 38 BaYaka 3- to 18-year-olds. We investigated the effect of age, sex and kinship on the teaching of subsistence skills. We found that child-to-child teaching was more frequent than adult-child teaching. Additionally, children taught more with age, teaching was more likely to occur within same-sex versus opposite-sex dyads, and close kin were more likely to teach than non-kin. We also found distinct learning patterns between the two groups; teaching was more likely to occur between sibling dyads among the Hadza than among the BaYaka, and a multistage learning model where younger children learn from peers, and older children from adults, was evident for the BaYaka, but not for the Hadza. We attribute these differences to subsistence and settlement patterns. These findings highlight children’s role in the intergenerational transmission of subsistence skills.

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