RE: [xmca] effectivity?

From: Peg Griffin (
Date: Sun Jan 22 2006 - 10:12:29 PST

For Gibson, I'm not sure that "transition to effectivity" is the idea. Here
Jerry Balzano or who-knows-else on the list could better jump in -- from my
limited understanding Gibsonian effectivity is more the ying to the yang of
affordance rather than a later phase or some equivalent of operationalizing
what was previously an action. The Gibson take seems helpful to me because
it gets me to think about both the issues of "disposition to" (not just
motivation in static sense but engaged and enacted) and the assembly (over
biology, time and/or social configuration) of what it takes to act or
operate on affordances.

Yes, child authored texts hung on walls or clothes lines do have affordances
about concepts of print (COP left-right, top-bottom) and may be especially
valuable because the "unit" COP apply to is "perceivable" in a different way
than they are in books. For instance, the texts may be hung really closely
next to each other in a row but you still don't go all the way to the left
-- you stop at an "end" that everybody "knows" but nobody needs to pay
attention to in other ways of displaying a text. Plus, the "ordering" of
the units and the finding of similar bits within different units in the row
-- affordances of advanced COP like "table of contents" and "index." But,
are there effectivities? My guess is that for lots of 3-4 yr olds (and
above) who use the same script in community and school, that the left-right
top-bottom COP is already an affordance-effectivity set -- that the skills
associated have been operationalized. Adults might want to and be able to
use the hanging texts to build "meta" or "comparative" effectivities so the
kids "see" script conventions not just the read/written text. More
interesting for me, though, is the chance to build effectivity for the
affordance offered by table of contents and index and so on.

In general, I'm afraid that we have not really developed a good idea (beyond
decoding words) of what we want genetically primary examples for in the
teaching of reading so it is hard to figure out what "things" we want around
with which affordances that we can capitalize on to build effectivities.

Here's an instance about comprehension and expository forms. The Sandra
Boynton board book (hence usually seen for 2's to 4's) called "Moo, Baa, La,
La, La" has a great affordance for comprehension and the apprehension of
different forms and functions of written language. But I've seen the
effectivity complement completely ignored (sometimes even sabotaged). The
book goes beyond the usual expository text on animal-sound associations:
Boynton does cows and sheep in a straightforward way but the pigs -- well,
they sing "la la la." The next page attacks the veracity of that claim
about pigs. Then there are more animals doing the expected sounds and the
last page is a picture of all the animals waiting for what the
reader(s)/listeners have to say. Now, in my mind (and in activity theory
terms) that can be a genetically primary example for expository prose, i.e.,
it has the crucial affordances. But the "designated reader" for the
children can mess it up by ignoring the depth of comprehension, the
importance of evaluating claims, and/or of getting a reader response, and/or
by imposing the narrative (e.g., by getting ordered recitation -- some,
even, I am sorry to say, imposing a "once upon a time" frame). So there it
is: a great book full of affordances but the effectivities can go la la la.

And I think that is the same point that you and the article in MCA make,

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of bb
Sent: Saturday, January 21, 2006 5:39 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [xmca] effectivity?

 -------------- Original message ----------------------
From: "Peg Griffin" <>
> And, as Ann Brown often reminded me, effectivity is a necessary complement
> to affordance in the Gibson world. How does that fit into your
> please, bb?
> Peg

Hi Peg, you're just the person from whom I'd appreciate comments about
children learning to read. To briefly answer your question, although I am
drawing upon Barkers ecological psychology rather than Gibsons, I suppose
the transition to effectivity can be instantiated in the following way.
Children first learning concepts about print, let's say in english, have to
be mindful about reading left to right and top to bottom, then later can
take these constraints on the directionality of print for granted, i.e.
becoming operational, as they progress through reading things like leveled
texts. Does this make sense?

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