Why kids may go ape in class

10th July 2009 at 01:00

If your pupils are getting you down, take comfort in the fact that research has revealed that chimps can learn by watching and imitating their peers on Blue Peter-style videos.

Researchers at St Andrews University filmed a chimpanzee creating a tool for prizing an out-of-reach piece of fruit from a tree. Then they showed the film to the chimp's peers to see if they would copy it. Lo and behold, many of the chimps could construct the tool. In a follow-up - during which the fruit was put within reach, making the tool obsolete - some chimps still made it. Only a few realised it was not necessary.

This experiment has wider implications, not only because it shows that chimpanzees can learn to make tools socially, but because it suggests that when humans learn from their peers, they develop a less flexible approach to new situations.

So the next time Year 10 are behaving like monkeys, download a video from YouTube on how to be well-behaved and calm will surely follow.

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