Natural pedagogy

TitleNatural pedagogy
Publication TypeBook Chapter
AuthorsGergely, Gy., and G. Csibra
EditorsBanaji, M. R., and S. A. Gelman
Book TitleNavigating the Social World: What Infants, Chidren, and Other Species Can Teach Us
PublisherOxford University Press
Publisher link

This chapter proposes that the mechanism of natural pedagogy is ostensive communication, which incorporates evolved interpretive biases that allow and foster the transmission of generic and culturally shared knowledge to others. Such communication is not necessarily linguistic but always referential. There is extensive evidence that infants and children are especially sensitive to being communicatively addressed by adults, and that even newborns attend to and show preference for ostensive signals, such as eye contact, infant-directed speech, or infant-induced contingent reactivity. Such ostensive cues generate referential expectations in infants, triggering a tendency to gaze-follow the other's subsequent orientation responses (such as gaze-shifts) to their referential target, which may contribute to learning about referential signals such as deictic gestures and words. The chapter also addresses some of the most frequently asked questions about natural pedagogy in order to resolve some typical misunderstandings about what is and what is not claimed by the theory.

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