Caves paintings: Savants not savages. Were caves and their paintings early simulators?

Donald Clark, Plan B, Sept 17, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I can't count how many times I've used the images from Kakadu (see my photo above) to illustrate points about learning and communication. One thing I've said is "we learning about the future the same way we learn about the past, by reading and understanding the signs." I have also commented on the use of diagrams of fish guts painted on cave walls as a form of educational communication. I don't think of their painters as the "last of the innocents" but rather the first users of language (if not symbold and signs) to communicate what they've learned to others. As Donald Clark says, we "have to get over the modern idea that this is 'art' in the sense of deliberately produced aesthetically pleasing images." He adds, "Cave paintings are therefore remarkable teaching and learning aids. They are the earliest classrooms and show that social cohesion may well have been fostered through the need for collective learning."

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