the role of externalization

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Sat Jun 05 2004 - 15:20:45 PDT

Observation made of 8 year old 3rd grader being drilled by grandfather
on multiplication tables orally at request of mother.

GP (Grandpa): So, what's 7X6?
Amelila: I know it but I can't see it.

GP. 42
GP. What's 6X8?

Amelia takes out a pencil, turns its eraser side toward the desk,
pantomimes the written calculation, and says, "48."

So, consistent with work of Goldin-Meadow, one role of gesture is to
create externally visible/sensible problems not only for another, but
to control one's own thought processes. "Seeing" herself write the
equation 6X8= she was able to provide the answer that had not yet become
fully internalized and accessible by seeing "in the mind's eye."

A.R. Luria -- Human children learn to control themselves from the outside,
a comment also attributable to L.S. Vygotsky.

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