What is Collective Learning?
Collective Learning is the ability to learn from another individual's experience without having to experience that lesson. (Christian, 2011). As humans we can learn from each other without having to experience something first hand. For example, many species learn how to hunt from their parents. They need to be taught individually how to develop these skills. They watch their parents hunt and kill, whereas other species learn first hand the dangers of predators by watching heard members be hunted. These lessons of survival are taught as the individual goes through life by learning through life experiences. Humans however have developed language which has allowed us to record history and learn things without having to exerpeince them first hand. For example, humans today know that great white sharks are dangerous without ever having to witness or experience a shark attack. We can learn which foods are posionous and which promote health, without trial and error, because we can simply absorb knowledge from past experiments from others. We have developed a method of communicating knowledge with each other that builds from one individual to the next.
The role of Language in Evolution
The ability to communicate through language has allowed humans to learn
and thus survive leading to exponential population growth. In history humans have learned from each other through reading, through conversation, and today through the internet and media. Our knowledge does not die when we die, like with other speices. We are able to discover and invent things that future generations use and benefit from. Being able to communicate through language helped humans form cooperative societies, (Pagel, 2011). Working together cooperatively increased chances of survival thus extending life expectancies. People were living longer, learning more about the world around them, and were able to pass this information on to new generations. Early humans were able to build knowledge from past generations which helped them solve problems and avoid danger.