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What Japan's Wild Snow Monkeys Can Teach Us About Animal Culture | Science | Smithsonian MagazineImo had innovated a new behavior that spread to her peers. Age and sex both influenced its transmission: Younger monkeys and females were more likely to learn potato washing than adult monkeys and males. The next stage began when Imo and her peers matured and reproduced. Now the behavior spread to the next generation with every new baby, males as well as females, learning sweet-potato washing from its mother. Age and sex were no longer factors. “Pre-cultural pressure is working,” Kawai wrote. A new behavior had become fixed within the troop.
when I sit on faculty evaluation committees, I’m the one who ends up defending the boring but expert professors, the ones who get poor write-ups from non-majors who just took the class for a distribution requirement, but whose senior project advisees think of them as gods. And I’m a little ashamed of myself for feeling smug about my ability to entertain 19-year-olds. Though perfectly successful by the available metrics, I am not yet the type of professor I most admire. One of the problems with college culture throughout the field, I think, is that teaching well is not rewarded much. Everyone smiles indulgently when a student raves about a professor, but it’s publishing (mostly), committee work (somewhat less), and professional honors that raise one’s profile in the institution. I resent switching my focus from my current book project to my next class, partly because it’s the book that’s going to impress my superiors and colleagues. That’s kind of sad. Edmundson is exercised about college devolving into a credential factory, in which we entertain young people for four years and then declare them qualified for a job without having changed their lives, transforming their sense of who they are. He waxes eloquent on the way we present to them the great minds of the past condescendingly, without acknowledging how much superior they were to most of us today. My school recently lost a wonderful music teacher who had come from studying and teaching in Asia, and she was horrified by how lazy American students were. She wouldn’t bend on her assignment workload, and her student evaluations suffered as a result; now she’s teaching in Beijing, where she’s more justly appreciated.