Jungle school: Lessons we can learn from orangutans
TRU Author: Shawn Thompson
Recounting his interactions with Princess, the signing orangutan, Thompson reflects on both Gary Shapiro’s and Roger Fouts’ methods when teaching Princess and Washoe, a chimpanzee, to communicate in sign language. Fouts acknowledges that the best teaching practices are based on the foundations of free will (in the forms of interest and creativity), good relationships between teacher and student, curiosity, choice, flexibility, and imitation. These teaching methods, Thompson argues, are also the foundations of teaching human students; in an interpersonal place of learning, students are able to engage and absorb more knowledge.