Homo sapiens has been variously described as a symbol-making animal, a tool-making animal, a social animal, a political animal, a rational animal, and a spiritual animal. Each of these characteristics has been identified as the basic element which distinguishes Homo from the rest of animal nature and gives him (her) his distinctively human characteristics. It may now be that Homo should not only be described biologically as Homo sapiens but socially and culturally as Homo educans. It may well be that the most apt way to describe the process of man's becoming human is to say that he became a teaching and learning animal. R Freeman Butts
The truth of humans as Homo educans is undeniable – we learn faster & deeper than other animals and we pass on a far richer culture – we're also far more creative in our brutishness.
However for me as an educator it is a case of our having evolved as Homo meaning-maker (whatever the correct Latin for that is).
Meaning is not primarily a commodity; it is the glue that binds all relationships. It is what enables patterns, community, belonging, our stories and a sense of the whole.
Enrichment in meaning-making possibilities heals, and can also transform the alienated into greater positivity.
It is the educator's nurturing of meaning-making possibilities for the learner – in the 4 prime characteristics of being human, our Caring, Our Creativity, Our Criticality and our acting in Community – that provides a human-centred leaning matrix in which technical stuff from learning to read to Ph.D.s in engineering.
There is a very condensed version of the model which eventually leads to the Ph.D.Thesis
Butts R F The Education of the West: A formative Chapter in the History of Civilization (New York: McGraw-Hill 1973)
SEE ALSO Richard Kahn's paper here