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Children Educate Themselves III: The Wisdom of Hunter-Gatherers

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created August 24, 2012 at 4:33 PM

I found this awesome article and had to share it, what do you think?

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/200808/children-educate-themselves-iii-the-wisdom-hunter-gatherers

For hundreds of thousands of years, up until the time when agriculture was invented (a mere 10,000 years ago), we were all hunter-gatherers. Our human instincts, including all of the instinctive means by which we learn, came about in the context of that way of life. And so it is natural that in this series on children's instinctive ways of educating themselves I should ask: How do hunter-gatherer children learn what they need to know to become effective adults within their culture?

In the last half of the 20th century, anthropologists located and observed many groups of people???in remote parts Africa, Asia, Australia, New Guinea, South America, and elsewhere???who had maintained a hunting-and-gathering life, almost unaffected by modern ways. Although each group studied had its own language and other cultural traditions, the various groups were found to be similar in many basic ways, which allows us to speak of "the hunter-gatherer way of life" in the singular. Wherever they were found, hunter-gatherers lived in small nomadic bands (of about 25 to 50 people per band), made decisions democratically, had ethical systems that centered on egalitarian values and sharing, and had rich cultural traditions that included music, art, games, dances, and time-honored stories.

To supplement what we could find in the anthropological literature, several years ago Jonathan Ogas (then a graduate student) and I contacted a number of anthropologists who had lived among hunter-gatherers and asked them to respond to a written questionnaire about their observations of children's lives. Nine such scholars kindly responded to our questionnaire. Among them, they had studied six different hunter-gatherer cultures???three in Africa, one in Malaysia, one in the Philippines, and one in New Guinea.

What I learned from my reading and our questionnaire was startling for its consistency from culture. Here I will summarize four conclusions, which I think are most relevant to the issue of self-education. Because I would like you to picture these practices as occurring now, I will use the present tense in describing them, even though the practices and the cultures themselves have been largely destroyed in recent years by intrusions from the more "developed" world around them.

  1. Hunter-gatherer children must learn an enormous amount to become successful adults.

It would be a mistake to think that education is not a big issue for hunter-gatherers because they don't have to learn much. In fact, they have to learn an enormous amount.

To become effective hunters, boys must learn the habits of the two or three hundred different species of mammals and birds that the band hunts; must know how to track such game using the slightest clues; must be able to craft perfectly the tools of hunting, such as bows and arrows, blowguns and darts, snares or nets; and must be extraordinarily skilled at using those tools.

To become effective gatherers, girls must learn which of the countless varieties of roots, tubers, nuts, seeds, fruits, and greens in their area are edible and nutritious, when and where to find them, how to dig them (in the case of roots and tubers), how to extract the edible portions efficiently (in the case of grains, nuts, and certain plant fibers), and in some cases how to process them to make them edible or increase their nutritional value. These abilities include physical skills, honed by years of practice, as well as the capacity to remember, use, add to, and modify an enormous store of culturally shared verbal knowledge about the food materials.

In addition, hunter-gatherer children must learn how to navigate their huge foraging territory, build huts, make fires, cook, fend off predators, predict weather changes, treat wounds and diseases, assist births, care for infants, maintain harmony within their group, negotiate with neighboring groups, tell stories, make music, and engage in various dances and rituals of their culture. Since there is little specialization beyond that of men as hunters and women as gatherers, each person must acquire a large fraction of the total knowledge and skills of the culture.

  1. The children learn all this without being taught.

Although hunter-gatherer children must learn an enormous amount, hunter-gatherers have nothing like school. Adults do not establish a curriculum, or attempt to motivate children to learn, or give lessons, or monitor children's progress. When asked how children learn what they need to know, hunter-gatherer adults invariably answer with words that mean essentially: "They teach themselves through their observations, play, and exploration." Occasionally an adult might offer a word of advice or demonstrate how to do something better, such as how to shape an arrowhead, but such help is given only when the child clearly desires it. Adults to not initiate, direct, or interfere with children's activities. Adults do not show any evidence of worry about their children's education; millennia of experience have proven to them that children are experts at educating themselves.[1]

  1. The children are afforded enormous amounts of time to play and explore.

In response to our question about how much time children had for play, the anthropologists we surveyed were unanimous in indicating that the hunter-gatherer children they observed were free to play most if not all of the day, every day. Typical responses are the following:

??? "[Batek] children were free to play nearly all the time; no one expected children to do serious work until they were in their late teens." (Karen Endicott.)

??? "Both girls and boys [among the Nharo] had almost all day every day free to play." (Alan Barnard.)

??? "[Ef??] boys were free to play nearly all the time until age 15-17; for girls most of the day, in between a few errands and some babysitting, was spent in play." (Robert Bailey.)

??? "[!Kung] children played from dawn to dusk. " (Nancy Howell.)

The freedom that hunter-gatherer children enjoy to pursue their own interests comes partly from the adults' understanding that such pursuits are the surest path to education. It also comes from the general spirit of egalitarianism and personal autonomy that pervades hunter-gatherer cultures and applies as much to children as to adults [2]. Hunter-gatherer adults view children as complete individuals, with rights comparable to those of adults. Their assumption is that children will, of their own accord, begin contributing to the economy of the band when they are developmentally ready to do so. There is no need to make children or anyone else do what they don't want to do. It is remarkable to think that our instincts to learn and to contribute to the community evolved in a world in which our instincts were trusted!

  1. Children observe adults' activities and incorporate those activities into their play.

Hunter-gatherer children are never isolated from adult activities. They observe directly all that occurs in camp???the preparations to move, the building of huts, the making and mending of tools and other artifacts, the food preparation and cooking, the nursing and care of infants, the precautions taken against predators and diseases, the gossip and discussions, the arguments and politics, the dances and festivities. They sometimes accompany adults on food gathering trips, and by age 10 or so boys sometimes accompany men on hunting trips.

The children not only observe all of these activities, but they also incorporate them into their play, and through that play they become skilled at the activities. As they grow older, their play turns gradually into the real thing. There is no sharp division between playful participation and real participation in the valued activities of the group.

For example boys who one day are playfully hunting butterflies with their little bows and arrows are, on a later day, playfully hunting small mammals and bringing some of them home to eat, and on yet a later day are joining men on real hunting trips, still in the spirit of play. As another example, both boys and girls commonly build play huts, modeled after the real huts that their parents build. In her response to our questionnaire, Nancy Howell pointed out that !Kung children commonly build a whole village of play huts a few hundred yards from the real village. The play village then becomes a playground where they act out many of the kinds of scenes that they observe among adults.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on August 30, 2012
at 10:31 AM

@KarenP - sorry to say, but evolution doesn't work that way. Our environments down owe us anything, and they can change, violently and without warning at any time. Those that adapt, survive... I shouldn't need to finish that sentence. As a parent, we're responsible for giving them the tools to adapt to anything, including having a purpose, teaching them to be responsible and guiding them, not "culture" or "society" - the world owes us nothing, we must fight for and defend our existence despite the cushy modern life. Sorry, I didn't make the rules, that's just how it is.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 26, 2012
at 07:04 PM

Spanking is not a solution, of course. But it is not the devil it is portrayed. It has its time and place. One thing I have noticed - Asian kids are still okay. I am not sure what those parents are doing, but whatever they are doing, seems to be working.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on August 26, 2012
at 06:55 PM

VB on that, we definitely agree.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 26, 2012
at 06:52 PM

Besides behavior, there is a growing number of learning disabilities, dyslexia, hand coordination, you name it... If you have a girl, you don't have to worry as much - girls are much easier to deal with and they do not have as many problems. I guess this is how nature operates. But this whole situation is very alarming, to say the least.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 26, 2012
at 06:50 PM

Karen, I agree with most of what you said. In my career I have taught over 1,000 kids from over 64 nations. And I am sorry to say - but kids from ... (western English-speaking nations - I am not going to name them) were the worst in terms of behavior. Especially boys. Every single year we had more and more ADD and ADHD kids - it was scary. And I cannot blame the parents - they were trying their best and they were asking for help themselves. I am very concerned about this situation as a teacher. My heart goes out to all those parents.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on August 26, 2012
at 05:48 PM

That being said, I do think we handicap our children horribly in our culture. Why else is adolescence now creeping past the age of 25? Our kids have no purpose, no responsibility, and nothing tangible to guide them. This is not their fault. It is a cultural shift that does not serve them. And I, for one, am scared to death of trying to raise my daughter with this knowledge in a culture that doesn't understand or support her needs as a human being. And yet I have to prepare her for that world.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on August 26, 2012
at 05:45 PM

...not all your children will make it to adulthood. So why spank them, unless you have a vested interest in their survival? Personally, I didn't respond to spanking, it only made me more pissed off and defiant. It is a reflection of the bearer, not the spanked. An ugly reflection, at that. You are in essence saying, "You are not doing exactly what I want you to do." It is dominance, pure and simple. Anyone willing to give out that type of punishment should be prepared to wrestle with some ugliness inside them.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on August 26, 2012
at 05:42 PM

I agree that HG accounts can romanticize the reality, and that the reality was often not as serene as it's portrayed. But just as we can't use the ideal to justify our inaction, we can't use the opposite to justify our actions. There is human behavior—period. It is all natural. These ideas of "right" and "wrong" are artificial, cultural constructs, which doesn't necessarily make them bad. Or good, for that matter. But I think when humans live closer and more intimately with life and death, things like punishment pale in comparison to reality. In order to live this way, you must accept that...

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 26, 2012
at 07:44 AM

He deliberately omitted those records that state that HG do physically punish their kids. I am not saying - every child must be spanked. I am saying - there is absolutely nothing wrong with spanking if a situation calls for it. It has been unjustly demonized, just as saturated fat, red meat, etc, etc, etc. And the Paleo crowd, out of all places, should have a more open mind.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 26, 2012
at 07:41 AM

Karen, I agree with you. As a former teacher, I don't think that school system is not an ideal place to educate a child. However, not everybody needs formal schooling, but everybody needs education. What is the alternative? Home schooling? Not every family can afford that. However, I am not against spanking done by parents - of course, if it is done appropriately. The problem is not the kids, but, the system, including school, families, society, etc. Peter Gray is a psychologist, not an anthropologist. What he did - just went through some anthropological accounts to prove his case.

6498694060d879a7960b35913539b75f

(1307)

on August 26, 2012
at 01:44 AM

This is not a question, it's a blog article.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on August 25, 2012
at 09:32 PM

Well, if you want to get technical about "evolutionary purpose", Peter Gray (the guy who wrote that article above) talks about how there is no discipline or correcting in HG groups. The kids play with machetes and they are not scolded or redirected. They are literally left to learn on their own. So let;s just say for the sake of argument that corporal punishment is necessary. If so, then that to me says we're keeping kids in an artificial, unnatural environment with arbitrary rules. The problem is the system and the rules, not the kids.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 07:36 PM

Evolutionary purpose of spanking is for the kids to feel danger and immediate consequences on a subconscious level, before thinking logically. And since their brains are not fully developed yet, in some cases it works much better, especially if it is something that causes danger to your child or somebody else.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 07:30 PM

It seems to me that you are following a very simple logic that is very common yet very faulty. Spanking is physical punishment, not physical violence. Physical punishment works because kids know - parents do it because they care. Kids actually understand physical punishment. Physical violence is not acceptable and should not be tolerated. So please do not mix those two terms.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 07:26 PM

Also, from my personal experience every single kid with bad behavior (EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM) was never spanked at home. Their parents believed in non-violence, and the kids took it as permission to do whatever they wanted because, as one kid put it, "my parents won't do anything to me, they just don't care". I always asked because I was interested. The best behaved kids were always Koreans. And every one of them was spanked. What does it tell you?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 07:22 PM

First of all, beating and spanking are two different things. Spanking is done more as a warning measure. Beating is physical abuse. So no need to tell about wives and slaves. Abuse and spanking are two different things. Another thing you need to understand - kids are not adults. Their brains are not fully formed and they function differently. That is why they understand better on a subconscious level. By the way, physical restriction is necessary for some grown-up people as well - it is called self-defense.

Dd74e6399ae697d8603dc9aa74fbafae

(695)

on August 25, 2012
at 05:56 PM

And maybe the argument that we're smarter than apes is not a valid one, however, there is nothing in our nature that draws us towards physical violence against our children. For what evolutionary purpose would that be? Children do not have a fully functional sense of morality. They may understand that some behaviors have consequences, but they also learn that using violence is okay.

Dd74e6399ae697d8603dc9aa74fbafae

(695)

on August 25, 2012
at 05:51 PM

I don't see how it is necessary physical punishment in order to teach children how to behave. Would your behavior change if some authority figure with some arbitrary sense of morality physically punished you for doing something they found objectionable? Government punishing people who eat paleo with physical violence would cause an uproar, yet using violence against children for any reason, if their behavior does not correlate with what you wish, is okay? Beating slaves used to be ok, so did wife beating. Fortunately both are not acceptable anymore. How's beating children any different?

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on August 25, 2012
at 02:58 PM

Yeah, puzzle solving and playing in kids seems like it would be a great set up for a successful, inquisitive life.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 02:51 PM

Here is another study, and I believe this one http://www.newsmax.com/US/spanking-studies-children-spock/2010/01/07/id/345669

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 02:23 PM

Plus, I am not advocating hitting little kids. Only teenagers, which in hunter-gatherer's terms would be married or ready to get married.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 02:20 PM

@Dragonfly - the key word is HARSH. Mild physical punishment is NECESSARY. Plus, there are plenty of studies that tell us that grains are good for us, so it must be one of those studies. You watch - in another 20 years they will figure out that some physical punishment is beneficial for most of the kids, providing they have the right nutrition.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on August 25, 2012
at 01:16 PM

Fortunately we have a much larger neocortex than chimps & baboons. It would be nice if more people would use theirs. VB have you read this? http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/06/27/peds.2011-2947.full.pdf+html

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 08:48 AM

And also, this argument "if chimps and baboons are doing it, does not mean we have to because we are smarter" is often used by vegetarians. If lions and tigers eat meat, it does not mean we have to because we are smarter than them. Does not work. We ARE animals. We all the basic instincts, we all drink milk and produce hormones. If you were an obedient boy and did not need corporal punishment - great, your parents must be lucky. Not all kids are like that. Everybody is different. Some kids actually need it and they even know they do. It does not mean that should be a full-blown abuse.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 08:18 AM

By the way, you are speaking from a student prospective. You don't know what some of those Junior High teachers experience in your country. I think teaching Junior High is a very traumatizing experience for people. More traumatic than it is for children. I know many teachers who still have nightmares about school. I have seen more teachers cry and lose sleep in my lifetime than kids.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 08:00 AM

By the way, I was teaching Norwegian kids and they were fine behavior wise. Actually, they were pretty good, no complaints whatsoever.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 07:59 AM

Not only chimps and baboons do it - MOST mammals teach their young ones using spanking. And if you think for a moment that hunters and gatherers never spanked their kids - ha! I would never believe that for a second.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 07:57 AM

I was teaching kids all over the world, just so you know. Kids that behaved the worst were from the parents who believed in non-violence. Kids who excelled were... Koreans. In most countries teachers are not allowed to hit a student - it is against the rules and it is too bad, because some kids really need it. Of course, it should not be done by a teacher - it should be done by a headmaster. That's why Catholic schools are ideal for teachers. Bring back corporal punishment!!! If you think that we are smart enough - let me tell you - no, we are not.

Dd74e6399ae697d8603dc9aa74fbafae

(695)

on August 25, 2012
at 06:55 AM

Even if chimps and baboons are doing doesn't mean we have to. Fortunately we're smart enough to see that there exist more effective methods of teaching children behavior.

Dd74e6399ae697d8603dc9aa74fbafae

(695)

on August 25, 2012
at 06:51 AM

One can also ask why Junior High in your country is like that, because in my country there are very few problems with teaching at that level, and if a teacher ever laid a finger on a student here, he or she would be fired, and would most likely never be able to teach again. Why does non-violence work here but not in your country? And no my girlfriend was not abused, just punished in the common way that children often are. Sometimes such events can be very traumatizing for children.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 05:22 AM

@TnQ I was against corporal punishment before, and then I started teaching at Junior High. And let me tell you - this changed my whole prospective on corporal punishment. So you and I are in two different categories. If you ever get to experience teaching Junior High (that most teachers avoid like the plague) you will understand me. The only teachers that survive it can be drill sergeants in the Army or prison guards. Normal people don't last long. You can think whatever you want to think but there are two sides to everything.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 04:57 AM

@ TnQ There is a difference between child abuse and corporal punishment. Your girlfriend's parents were abusing her. Physical punishment has a different purpose and different means.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 04:52 AM

Sure it is! Look at the chimps, baboons and see how they punish their young ones for bad behavior. I was spanked as a kid and, basically, everybody I know was spanked as well. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Dd74e6399ae697d8603dc9aa74fbafae

(695)

on August 24, 2012
at 10:26 PM

My parents thought me that there were consequences for bad behavior without every punishing me, and I turned out pretty well. Friends who were beaten as kids are now the ones who gets in trouble, have problems with alcohol, get in fights, etc. Seeing my girlfriend wake up in the middle of the night crying after having nightmares of when her parents beat her is enough evidence for me to understand that beating kids are detrimental to their health and development. There is nothing in our biology that suggest that violence is good for learning behavior.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on August 24, 2012
at 09:56 PM

You're teaching them that there are consequences to bad behavior. It works. At first, you need to follow through with the threats, later, the threat is enough to prevent bad behavior. You may find it disgusting, but it's been in use until the 1960s without problems.

Dd74e6399ae697d8603dc9aa74fbafae

(695)

on August 24, 2012
at 09:08 PM

How people can support corporal punishment is beyond me. You are not teaching your children anything, you're hurting them. I don't see how we believe that we can ever create a better world with more peaceful people if adults keep beating up their kids. Disgusting!

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4 Answers

4
Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c

on August 24, 2012
at 10:36 PM

I'm a theatre teaching artist, so I find that while I am into education, I have a lot of concerns about school systems (and if I ever have a classroom teaching post, will still carry those concerns). One book I really enjoy is called Unschooling Rules. The book is basically a series of ideas about education that go against the grain of established schools. One such rule: animals are better than books about animals.

The ideas in the book seem to jive with the article. How can we educate in hands-on, playful, dynamic kinds of ways? I hope that my own work using drama in different subjects can be a part of that, because as I see it it is really about play.

Another book that comes to mind is Homo Ludens. The title is Latin for "Playing Man". The book is about play as a cultural phenomenon, influencing politics, poetry, war, religion, education, etc. Play as a microcosm for adult life.

I think if we are to learn from the educational structures of hunter-gatherers, we need to acknowledge how deep our assumptions of school being something formal (dare I say industrial?) actually go. Education ??? school. Education = life, lived, breathed, and played.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on August 25, 2012
at 02:58 PM

Yeah, puzzle solving and playing in kids seems like it would be a great set up for a successful, inquisitive life.

0
Dd74e6399ae697d8603dc9aa74fbafae

(695)

on September 07, 2013
at 12:44 AM

My parents thought me that there were consequences for bad behavior without every punishing me, and I turned out pretty well. Friends who were beaten as kids are now the ones who gets in trouble, have problems with alcohol, get in fights, etc. Seeing my girlfriend wake up in the middle of the night crying after having nightmares of when her parents beat her is enough evidence for me to understand that beating kids are detrimental to their health and development. It is absolutely wrong to say that it's been used since the 1960's without problem, thousand, if not millions, of kids have been traumatized. By your logic, hitting adults who behave bad should also be practiced, unless violence only applies to innocent children. There is nothing in our biology that suggest that violence is good for learning behavior, quite the opposite actually.

0
Fd1c5e35538fbe2ea5eccb8acd7ae546

(496)

on August 25, 2012
at 02:59 PM

Children will be children no matter what era they live in.They learn by observing and playing.If not for the organized educational system,our kids will be playing all day long too.But we have to go to work so it's more convenient to send them to school.Our kids have to learn a lot too,but on a different scale.And they do.Look at technology,there's so much information to be learned and kids are embracing it and are good at it.A lot of times by figuring it out and practicing on their own

0
F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 24, 2012
at 06:57 PM

Great article but...

  1. Their childhood ends in our Junior High. In some cultures girls are married off after the first period - around 10 - 11 years old. No, I got the numbers right, I actually checked. The boys are considered adult at around 14.

  2. They learn by experience. They have no writing systems, no books, so it is all empirical knowledge. They learn by doing. They don't have to take entrance exams, study for the tests or build their resumes. The only exam they have to pass is surviving in their natural environment. If they don't know how to hunt, they will starve to death.

  3. There were not so many teenage-kids in every tribe to begin with. There were only 20-30 people in each group, some old, some very young - so it is a different ratio. Compare it to today's schools - 30 kids in one class for one adult.

  4. I am glad I am not a hunter-gatherer. I prefer Korean way of disciplining children - beat them with a stick on their butts. As a former teacher I support corporal punishment all the way. Especially for grade 8 boys. That's the only way some of them will understand rules.

EDITED: PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING STUDY http://www.newsmax.com/US/spanking-studies-children-spock/2010/01/07/id/345669

  1. I am almost done with my bone broth. It took me 12 hours and I am tired. It is better be good, otherwise I will write another answer to the question I really know nothing about.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on August 24, 2012
at 09:56 PM

You're teaching them that there are consequences to bad behavior. It works. At first, you need to follow through with the threats, later, the threat is enough to prevent bad behavior. You may find it disgusting, but it's been in use until the 1960s without problems.

Dd74e6399ae697d8603dc9aa74fbafae

(695)

on August 24, 2012
at 09:08 PM

How people can support corporal punishment is beyond me. You are not teaching your children anything, you're hurting them. I don't see how we believe that we can ever create a better world with more peaceful people if adults keep beating up their kids. Disgusting!

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 07:57 AM

I was teaching kids all over the world, just so you know. Kids that behaved the worst were from the parents who believed in non-violence. Kids who excelled were... Koreans. In most countries teachers are not allowed to hit a student - it is against the rules and it is too bad, because some kids really need it. Of course, it should not be done by a teacher - it should be done by a headmaster. That's why Catholic schools are ideal for teachers. Bring back corporal punishment!!! If you think that we are smart enough - let me tell you - no, we are not.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 02:51 PM

Here is another study, and I believe this one http://www.newsmax.com/US/spanking-studies-children-spock/2010/01/07/id/345669

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 07:30 PM

It seems to me that you are following a very simple logic that is very common yet very faulty. Spanking is physical punishment, not physical violence. Physical punishment works because kids know - parents do it because they care. Kids actually understand physical punishment. Physical violence is not acceptable and should not be tolerated. So please do not mix those two terms.

Dd74e6399ae697d8603dc9aa74fbafae

(695)

on August 25, 2012
at 06:51 AM

One can also ask why Junior High in your country is like that, because in my country there are very few problems with teaching at that level, and if a teacher ever laid a finger on a student here, he or she would be fired, and would most likely never be able to teach again. Why does non-violence work here but not in your country? And no my girlfriend was not abused, just punished in the common way that children often are. Sometimes such events can be very traumatizing for children.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 07:26 PM

Also, from my personal experience every single kid with bad behavior (EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM) was never spanked at home. Their parents believed in non-violence, and the kids took it as permission to do whatever they wanted because, as one kid put it, "my parents won't do anything to me, they just don't care". I always asked because I was interested. The best behaved kids were always Koreans. And every one of them was spanked. What does it tell you?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 05:22 AM

@TnQ I was against corporal punishment before, and then I started teaching at Junior High. And let me tell you - this changed my whole prospective on corporal punishment. So you and I are in two different categories. If you ever get to experience teaching Junior High (that most teachers avoid like the plague) you will understand me. The only teachers that survive it can be drill sergeants in the Army or prison guards. Normal people don't last long. You can think whatever you want to think but there are two sides to everything.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 04:52 AM

Sure it is! Look at the chimps, baboons and see how they punish their young ones for bad behavior. I was spanked as a kid and, basically, everybody I know was spanked as well. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 02:20 PM

@Dragonfly - the key word is HARSH. Mild physical punishment is NECESSARY. Plus, there are plenty of studies that tell us that grains are good for us, so it must be one of those studies. You watch - in another 20 years they will figure out that some physical punishment is beneficial for most of the kids, providing they have the right nutrition.

Dd74e6399ae697d8603dc9aa74fbafae

(695)

on August 24, 2012
at 10:26 PM

My parents thought me that there were consequences for bad behavior without every punishing me, and I turned out pretty well. Friends who were beaten as kids are now the ones who gets in trouble, have problems with alcohol, get in fights, etc. Seeing my girlfriend wake up in the middle of the night crying after having nightmares of when her parents beat her is enough evidence for me to understand that beating kids are detrimental to their health and development. There is nothing in our biology that suggest that violence is good for learning behavior.

Dd74e6399ae697d8603dc9aa74fbafae

(695)

on August 25, 2012
at 06:55 AM

Even if chimps and baboons are doing doesn't mean we have to. Fortunately we're smart enough to see that there exist more effective methods of teaching children behavior.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 04:57 AM

@ TnQ There is a difference between child abuse and corporal punishment. Your girlfriend's parents were abusing her. Physical punishment has a different purpose and different means.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 07:36 PM

Evolutionary purpose of spanking is for the kids to feel danger and immediate consequences on a subconscious level, before thinking logically. And since their brains are not fully developed yet, in some cases it works much better, especially if it is something that causes danger to your child or somebody else.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on August 26, 2012
at 05:48 PM

That being said, I do think we handicap our children horribly in our culture. Why else is adolescence now creeping past the age of 25? Our kids have no purpose, no responsibility, and nothing tangible to guide them. This is not their fault. It is a cultural shift that does not serve them. And I, for one, am scared to death of trying to raise my daughter with this knowledge in a culture that doesn't understand or support her needs as a human being. And yet I have to prepare her for that world.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on August 26, 2012
at 06:55 PM

VB on that, we definitely agree.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 07:59 AM

Not only chimps and baboons do it - MOST mammals teach their young ones using spanking. And if you think for a moment that hunters and gatherers never spanked their kids - ha! I would never believe that for a second.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 08:18 AM

By the way, you are speaking from a student prospective. You don't know what some of those Junior High teachers experience in your country. I think teaching Junior High is a very traumatizing experience for people. More traumatic than it is for children. I know many teachers who still have nightmares about school. I have seen more teachers cry and lose sleep in my lifetime than kids.

Dd74e6399ae697d8603dc9aa74fbafae

(695)

on August 25, 2012
at 05:51 PM

I don't see how it is necessary physical punishment in order to teach children how to behave. Would your behavior change if some authority figure with some arbitrary sense of morality physically punished you for doing something they found objectionable? Government punishing people who eat paleo with physical violence would cause an uproar, yet using violence against children for any reason, if their behavior does not correlate with what you wish, is okay? Beating slaves used to be ok, so did wife beating. Fortunately both are not acceptable anymore. How's beating children any different?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 08:00 AM

By the way, I was teaching Norwegian kids and they were fine behavior wise. Actually, they were pretty good, no complaints whatsoever.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 02:23 PM

Plus, I am not advocating hitting little kids. Only teenagers, which in hunter-gatherer's terms would be married or ready to get married.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 26, 2012
at 07:44 AM

He deliberately omitted those records that state that HG do physically punish their kids. I am not saying - every child must be spanked. I am saying - there is absolutely nothing wrong with spanking if a situation calls for it. It has been unjustly demonized, just as saturated fat, red meat, etc, etc, etc. And the Paleo crowd, out of all places, should have a more open mind.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 08:48 AM

And also, this argument "if chimps and baboons are doing it, does not mean we have to because we are smarter" is often used by vegetarians. If lions and tigers eat meat, it does not mean we have to because we are smarter than them. Does not work. We ARE animals. We all the basic instincts, we all drink milk and produce hormones. If you were an obedient boy and did not need corporal punishment - great, your parents must be lucky. Not all kids are like that. Everybody is different. Some kids actually need it and they even know they do. It does not mean that should be a full-blown abuse.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on August 25, 2012
at 01:16 PM

Fortunately we have a much larger neocortex than chimps & baboons. It would be nice if more people would use theirs. VB have you read this? http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/06/27/peds.2011-2947.full.pdf+html

Dd74e6399ae697d8603dc9aa74fbafae

(695)

on August 25, 2012
at 05:56 PM

And maybe the argument that we're smarter than apes is not a valid one, however, there is nothing in our nature that draws us towards physical violence against our children. For what evolutionary purpose would that be? Children do not have a fully functional sense of morality. They may understand that some behaviors have consequences, but they also learn that using violence is okay.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 25, 2012
at 07:22 PM

First of all, beating and spanking are two different things. Spanking is done more as a warning measure. Beating is physical abuse. So no need to tell about wives and slaves. Abuse and spanking are two different things. Another thing you need to understand - kids are not adults. Their brains are not fully formed and they function differently. That is why they understand better on a subconscious level. By the way, physical restriction is necessary for some grown-up people as well - it is called self-defense.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 26, 2012
at 07:04 PM

Spanking is not a solution, of course. But it is not the devil it is portrayed. It has its time and place. One thing I have noticed - Asian kids are still okay. I am not sure what those parents are doing, but whatever they are doing, seems to be working.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on August 25, 2012
at 09:32 PM

Well, if you want to get technical about "evolutionary purpose", Peter Gray (the guy who wrote that article above) talks about how there is no discipline or correcting in HG groups. The kids play with machetes and they are not scolded or redirected. They are literally left to learn on their own. So let;s just say for the sake of argument that corporal punishment is necessary. If so, then that to me says we're keeping kids in an artificial, unnatural environment with arbitrary rules. The problem is the system and the rules, not the kids.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 26, 2012
at 06:50 PM

Karen, I agree with most of what you said. In my career I have taught over 1,000 kids from over 64 nations. And I am sorry to say - but kids from ... (western English-speaking nations - I am not going to name them) were the worst in terms of behavior. Especially boys. Every single year we had more and more ADD and ADHD kids - it was scary. And I cannot blame the parents - they were trying their best and they were asking for help themselves. I am very concerned about this situation as a teacher. My heart goes out to all those parents.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 26, 2012
at 07:41 AM

Karen, I agree with you. As a former teacher, I don't think that school system is not an ideal place to educate a child. However, not everybody needs formal schooling, but everybody needs education. What is the alternative? Home schooling? Not every family can afford that. However, I am not against spanking done by parents - of course, if it is done appropriately. The problem is not the kids, but, the system, including school, families, society, etc. Peter Gray is a psychologist, not an anthropologist. What he did - just went through some anthropological accounts to prove his case.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on August 26, 2012
at 05:45 PM

...not all your children will make it to adulthood. So why spank them, unless you have a vested interest in their survival? Personally, I didn't respond to spanking, it only made me more pissed off and defiant. It is a reflection of the bearer, not the spanked. An ugly reflection, at that. You are in essence saying, "You are not doing exactly what I want you to do." It is dominance, pure and simple. Anyone willing to give out that type of punishment should be prepared to wrestle with some ugliness inside them.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on August 26, 2012
at 06:52 PM

Besides behavior, there is a growing number of learning disabilities, dyslexia, hand coordination, you name it... If you have a girl, you don't have to worry as much - girls are much easier to deal with and they do not have as many problems. I guess this is how nature operates. But this whole situation is very alarming, to say the least.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on August 26, 2012
at 05:42 PM

I agree that HG accounts can romanticize the reality, and that the reality was often not as serene as it's portrayed. But just as we can't use the ideal to justify our inaction, we can't use the opposite to justify our actions. There is human behavior—period. It is all natural. These ideas of "right" and "wrong" are artificial, cultural constructs, which doesn't necessarily make them bad. Or good, for that matter. But I think when humans live closer and more intimately with life and death, things like punishment pale in comparison to reality. In order to live this way, you must accept that...

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on August 30, 2012
at 10:31 AM

@KarenP - sorry to say, but evolution doesn't work that way. Our environments down owe us anything, and they can change, violently and without warning at any time. Those that adapt, survive... I shouldn't need to finish that sentence. As a parent, we're responsible for giving them the tools to adapt to anything, including having a purpose, teaching them to be responsible and guiding them, not "culture" or "society" - the world owes us nothing, we must fight for and defend our existence despite the cushy modern life. Sorry, I didn't make the rules, that's just how it is.

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