Re: the role of externalization

From: Yrjö Engeström (
Date: Sat Jun 05 2004 - 15:44:26 PDT

Beautiful example, Mike.

The key reference is:
Goldin-Meadow, S. (2003). Hearing gesture: How our hands help us think.
Belknap Press.

I think we may expand the point far beyond math tasks. Children's
imaginary companions are a case in point. They are often, but not
always, represented by material creatures such as dolls or teddy bears.
When I was a child, I used to draw events and adventures with my
imaginary companions (they were twin brothers) in the air with my
finger when I went to bed and waited for sleep to come.

In this case, drawing in the air was used to "control" my own fears,
anxieties, hopes and desires.

Among studies of imaginary companions, I have not found any which would
deal with drawing in the air. Anyone else?

Yrjö Engeström

Mike Cole kirjoittaa lauantaina, 5. kesäkuuta 2004, kello 15:20:

> 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.
> mike

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