“Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.”
Researchers in England have, for the first time, identified an example of true human-like teaching in the animal world.
Their definition of teaching goes beyond simple “monkey-see, monkey-do.” First, the teacher must show the student how to do something, doing it less efficiently than they normally would. Next, the student must learn the task faster than it would without the teacher. Finally, to be true teaching, there must be student-teacher feedback.
They found that a small ant on England’s southern coast meets these criteria. In their experiments, they placed a sugar solution about six inches from the ants’ nest. They videotaped what happened next. After an ant discovered the sugary treat, it returned to the nest to get a friend. The teacher ant would then lead its student to the sugar, going four times more slowly than it normally would. During the lesson, the student would periodically stop and turn around, as if to get its bearings. Feedback between student and teacher took place when the student would tap the teacher with her antennae to keep her moving.
God is, of course, the ultimate Teacher Who gives both the ability to teach and to learn wherever it is needed. The greatest truth He teaches is the truth of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, His Son.
Father, thank You for teaching me the truth that Jesus Christ died for my sins so that You could truly be my Father. Amen.
Science News, 1/14/06, pp. 20-21, S. Milius, “Little Professor.” Photo: These fire ants can also teach you a painful lesson if you disturb them.