Ant School Teachers
Human adults teach their young how to fend for themselves in this world through demonstration and hands on activities. Apparently, adult ants teach their young pupils in much the same way, taking them out on foraging quests and teaching them how to find food.
A new study revealed that ants teach their young how to forage for food using a “tandem running” technique that involved poking and prodding between the teacher and pupil. Female worker ants will take an inexperienced ant out with them on a foraging expedition, using tandem running to pass the knowledge onto the young ant. The experienced ant will lead the pupil through the forest to forage for food. The pupil learns by following and then stopping every so often to study landmarks along the way, while the teacher moves forward. Once the student ant is done exploring they will run to catch up to the teacher and tap her on the hind legs, letting her know he or she is ready for more.
The process is highly controlled, with the two ants constantly keeping tabs on how large the gap is between them. When the gap gets too large either the teacher will slow down to allow the student to catch up or the student will stop their exploration to run and catch up to the teacher. This instruction from a lead ant helps the students to learn how to find food much more quickly.
Can you think of similar teaching methods humans use with their young?