Handaxes, Concepts, and Teaching


Address correspondence to Michael Chazan, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, 19 Russell Street, Toronto, ONT M5S 2S2, Canada; e-mail: mchazan@me.com or mchazan@chass.utoronto.ca


This paper argues that teaching of concepts is deeply rooted in human phylogeny. The basis of this argument is a consideration of the type of knowledge used to make handaxes, a tool that is found in the archaeological record beginning around 1.8 million years ago. A distinction is made between the human capacity for teaching concepts, which has a deep evolutionary history, and the types of learning that take place in classrooms that can be related to the social context of early state societies.