Re: the role of externalization

From: Peter Moxhay (
Date: Tue Jun 08 2004 - 08:29:03 PDT

Interesting example, Mike, but wouldn't El'konin and Davydov question
*what* was being externalized here?

Was the girl's gesture helping her to recall merely a verbally learned

Or was the girl's knowledge deeper? Was she externalizing some sequence
of object-based actions? Seems to me that this is not answered by the
observation that is described here. Considerably more work would be
needed to "unfold" the operations the girl is performing; cf. the famous
paper by Davydov and Andronov on the distinct gestures used by
preschool children to represent ordinal and cardinal number.

Probably here the girl's gesture is concealing something more than
"writing down the answer." But what?


> 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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