We learned in class that animals with higher intelligence, such as humans, do not need direct experience to learn things. Instead, mirror neurons in our brains make us capable of observational learning, or, learning simply by watching someone else. When watching someone else perform an action, these neurons fire as if we were actually performing the action ourselves. This opens up many opportunities for learning about things we cannot directly experience, and also allow us to feel empathy for others.
I experience observational learning everyday! Many classes teach material that I cannot experience first hand. The most prominent example comes from my time in high school chemistry class. Not all of the chemical reactions we learned were safe for high school juniors to reenact, so we instead watched videos or watched the teacher perform the experiment. Although I was not physically combining the chemicals, I was able to understand the point of the reaction. When the material appeared on the test, I was able to answer questions about the experiment even though I had not done it. This is because I learned the reaction through observing it, and thanks to my mirror neurons, it was almost as if i had done the experiment myself. As long as we have the attention, memory, imitation, and motivation necessary, we can effectively use observational learning!