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Re: [xmca] Honestly....

Thanks for interest and sharing references.

My point in sharing was not to illuminate "temporary cognitive capabilities" (understood for years), but to go far wider and direct our thoughts more to the role of the daily life social context
and play in children's learning and development.

Fleer, M. (2010). Early Learning and Development: Cultural-historical concepts in play.
Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.

On 29/04/2010, at 12:28 PM, David H Kirshner wrote:

The amazing, but temporary, cognitive capabilities of newborns was
documented decades ago. The following article presents pictures as
Bower, T. G. R. (1976, Nov. 23). Repetitive processes in child
development. Scientific American, 5(5), 38-47.

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
On Behalf Of Avis Ridgway
Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 3:49 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Honestly....

Adding to Helen's observation, I have video of my son ( an
audiologist) holding his 12 hours old daughter out in front of him
along his arm, head supported in extended arm and hand ..., so that
they are face to face. He is checking to see if she responds to him.
He sticks his tongue out at her and she does this back to him. He
calls to his wife who is videoing this from the hospital bed "did you
see that??? He does it again and she "replies"/ copies"

He tries something different. He does a yawn and YES she yawns back.
These responses are recorded on the video.

As a researcher in early childhood, I can see that my granddaughter's
early responses have been carefully noted, especially her speech
development because her mother is a speech pathologist. Both parents
paid very careful attention to record very early sounds and
responses.  These video recordings over the first days , weeks and
months and spoken observations are very helpful in showing that
learning from birth is supported by a social situation, and also shows
how parents 'in the know' observe with intention and how that
interested observation builds abilities in the child to respond.


On 28/04/2010, at 12:25 PM, Martin Packer wrote:


I am sure that you have a very smart daughter!  But I do think that
what you've described is not as unusual as the nurses viewed it.
Nurses do so much more than their fair share of the work in a
hospital that they don't generally have the time or opportunity to
observe what neonates are doing.

A few weeks ago I mentioned here the research of Fajans, one of Kurt
Lewin's students, who showed that the response of an infant to an
interesting object varied depending on whether an adult was present
or not. The infant seemed to perceive the object as more potentially
available if someone were around to fetch it, and of course during
the first year infants require that other people not only feed and
clothe them, but move them around and fetch and carry for them. In
your case, you facilitated your infant daughter's response to the
nurse entering the room by supporting her, probably holding her in a
seated position, because the newborn's head is so large in
proportion to the body that they have very limited ability to move
it unaided.

It's interesting that your second observation was when she was about
2 months old, because there's a marked change in the organization of
infant behavior at around six weeks. Neonatologists distinguish 6
behavioral states in newborns, but around 6 weeks it gets very hard
to apply the criteria. I had the opportunity to discuss this with
Hanus Papousek, who I believed first developed the scoring of these
states, and he confirmed my observation. One has the impression that
already the infant has acquired some degree of control of their own
reactions to the environment (note how I wove in those Vygotskian
terms!), and consequently has greater ability to initiate
interactions, such as the overtures to the other baby that you

Why infants are so fascinated by other infants continues to puzzle
me, however! Perhaps it's the similarity of tempo.


On Apr 27, 2010, at 7:40 PM, Helen Grimmett wrote:

When I was in hospital with my first baby I was sitting on my bed one
morning holding my new daughter and singing her a song, engrossed
in how
intently she was watching me. As I sang, a nurse entered the room and
Natalie immediately swung her head round to look at her. The nurse
stunned, saying she had never seen such a young baby (a few days
old) do

About 7-8 weeks later at my new mums group the maternal health nurse
commented on the way that Natalie (being held on my lap) was watching
and smiling at the baby on the Mum's lap next to me. "She's going
to be
a bright one, that one!" she 'warned' me.

Being my first baby, I didn't recognise any of these actions as
and thought this must be what all babies do, but the maternity nurses
who had seen hundreds of babies thought it was very unusual. Perhaps
Martin, it was those very early (within hours) intense interactions
talking, singing and reading to her that 'summoned' her to expect
to be interesting to interact with too? But don't all new parents do
this? (Well perhaps not the reading! - That was the luck of this
to have two primary school teachers as parents!)


----- Original Message -----
From: Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu>
Date: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 8:13 am
Subject: Re: [xmca] Honestly....
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>


Thanks for the Levontin, which I will read with pleasure. But on
this issue I'm drawing more on my own experience than what I read
in books. After I finished my undergraduate degree I didn't want to
get a PhD, so I looked for work around London and managed to get a
research job that involved conducting observations of neonatal
behavior at birth and an assessment (designed by pediatrician Berry
Brazelton) of their capabilities during the first weeks of life (we
repeated it at intervals from about 3 hours to 6 weeks of age). I
am attaching a photo I took of one of our research participants to
illustrate why I think it's not quite right to say that children
must 'acquire' the tendency to engage in interaction. To talk of
the child being 'summoned' to interaction works better for me, and
obviously children need to be drawn out (but 'trained'? Not so sure
about that!). I forget the exact age of this child, but he was
about 3 days old. My students are always surprised to see how
attentive and intent such a young baby can be.


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