"It is always against a background of the already begun that man is able to reflect on what may serve for him as origin. For man, then, origin is by no means the beginning--a sort of dawn of history from which his ulterior acquisitions would have accumulated. Origin, for man, is much more the way in which man in general, any man, articulates himself upon the already-begun of labour, life, and language; it must be sought for in that fold where man in all simplicity applies his labour to a world that has been worked for thousands of years, lives in the freshness of his unique, recent, and precarious existence a life that has its roots in the first organic formations, and composes into sentences which have never before been spoken (even though generation after generation has repeated them) words that are older than all memory."
The discipline of developmental psychology has moved through
four distinct paradigms since its inception at the end of the 19th century.
Understanding these theoretical frameworks (I've borrowed Michael and
Sheila Cole's terminology here) offers insights into the development of
developmental psychology itself, countering any simple interpretation
of the discipline as straightforwardly progressive, steadily building
knowledge, and showing the shifting and contested ground upon which both
theory and data can appear.
It becomes clear that the central concept of "development" has itself changed considerably over the history of the discipline. The conceptualization of how people change is undoubtedly central to any inquiry into that change. And it becomes evident that this concept is now problematic in its character, speaking to a shift in paradigm now taking place in developmental psychology.
The first of these theoretical frameworks was a biological-maturationist paradigm, where children's development was viewed as primarily the consequence of factors intrinsic to the organism. G. Stanley Hall and Arnold Gesell were figures central to this framework.
Second was behaviorism, placing emphasis on the role of the enviroment as a source of factors "shaping" the organism. John B. Watson and B. F. Skinner were key figures here. They insisted that a scientific psychology would attend only to observable behavior.
Third was the cognitive-developmentalism in which developmental psychology became swept up in the "cognitive revolution" of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The work of Jean Piaget was translated into English and began to influence developmentalists in the U.K. and the U.S. Information-processing theories became popular, and Noam Chomsky's "transformational linguistics" had a large impact on work in the new field of developmental psycholinguistics. Factors internal to the organism became viewed as important again, as the computer provided a model for "cognitive representations" that would be accessible to scientific investigation, thus avoiding the "mentalism" that behaviorism had excoriated.
Most recent is a cultural psychology paradigm. Cross-cultural research in the 1960s on the social influences on cognition found a language for conceptualizing findings and methodological problems in the newly translated Thought & Language (1962) by Lev Vygotsky. Subsequently at least three distinct formulations of a cultural psychology have been offered, including sociocultural and cultural-historical approaches.
Let's sketch an outline of each of these four in turn, with a focus on the way development was conceptualized in each. Ultimately we'll need to make some effort to place each paradigm in its historical and cultural context, though that is not attempted here. (And let's grant at the outset that these are the paradigms of developmental psychology in the United States. Of the United Kingdom, for instance, the story would be somewhat different.) And that these are rough notes, waiting to be polished when time permits.
1. Biological-Maturation Paradigm
G. Stanley Hall (1844 - 1924)
G. Stanley Hall was one of the more colorful people to work within the biological-maturation framework. He is often credited with initiating the systematic study of children's development. The founder of APA and its first president, Hall was born on the family farm in Ashfield, Massachusetts, and although he studied in and travelled extensively through Europe, taught at Harvard and Johns Hopkins Universities, and became president of Clark University, one senses that part of him never left the farm.
Hall is somewhat notorious for a "recapitulation" view of development: an account in which each individual relives the cultural epochs of their racial history. The life habits, the codes of conduct, of our ancestors are the source of the temperamental dispositions, the "instinct-feelings," experienced. These, Hall maintained, are superior to any feeble rationality.
The preface to Halls two volumes on adolescence (1904) began with a harangue against "epistemologists" and the dry life of the typical academic. Hall viewed human development as operating on a level deeper than that of intellect. Yet Halls view of human nature was not essentialist. "Man is rapidly changing..." (vii) he wrote. "man is not a permanent type but an organism in a very active stage of evolution toward a more permanent form."
Current consciousness is "but a single stage and one type of mind: a late, partial, and perhaps essentially abnormal and remedial outcrop of the great underlying life of man-soul." Hall's evolutionism provided--or arose from--a historical sensitivity. We must search, he insisted, for traces, fossils, of the earlier form of our "soul life." This was surely Darwins method: to describe anatomical traces in living creatures (rather than/as well as fossils).
For "we know the soul best when we can best write its history in the world" (viii) "and... there are no finalities save formulae of development." Thats to say humans are not a finished product. The formulae that define the laws of our growth may be fixed, but we creatures governed by them are in continual flux. So theres no sense here that white Protestant males are at some kind of pinnacle of human progress. (To the contrary, p. viii.)
The human species, in other words, is still adolescent
in soul,' as are those, Hall insisted, to whom his vision will appeal.
This is "the twilight... of dawn and not of evening." Mans
"completion" is "always ideal and forever in the future"
(ix). An element of Christian imagery will be evident here; Hall was a
very religious man (cf. . Growth for Hall, then, was biological not in
resembling the blossoming of a flower, but in the sense that the individual
traces a pathway first defined by the evolution of the species. In his
view "the child and the race are each keys to the other" - not
the child and society.
But this was not a simple maturationism. Hall was quite aware of the interaction between organism and environment. He favored a search for opportunities for the person at each stage to "enter upon his full heritage, live out each stage of life to the fullest, and realize in himself all its manifold tendencies" (xi).
Hall frequently wrote as though civilization represses and corrupts, never more so than when he considered the developmental period of early childhood. . The "best modern school" cannot provide the "more truly humanistic and liberal" conditions that "the country" can for the early childhood, to "revel in savagery...[etc.]" (x).These "murmerings" of the "vaster, richer life of the remote past of the race" can save us from "the omnipresent danger of precocity" (xi). Our "unbalanced, hot-house life... tends to ripen everything before its time" (xi). Indeed, society is at this stage at least not the means or medium of development, but an instrument of corruption. Hall sought "true norms against the tendencies to precocity..." (viii).
Middle Childhood: 8-12 years.
This was an age, Hall suggested, of peculiar endurance, vitality, and resistance to fatigue. The child's perception is very acute, but there is an immunity to exposure, accident, and temptation. Reason, morality, religion, sympathy and love are but very slightly developed. This developmental age corresponds to the age of maturity in the pigmoid stage of evolution. We can see "ripple-marks of an ancient pubic beach." The child revels in savagery, showing a proclivity for tribal, predatory activities such as hunting, fishing, fighting, roving, idleness and playing. The country is the proper environment for the child of this age, and "Books and reading are distasteful, for the very soul and body cry out for a more active, objective life, and to know nature and man first hand."
"Another remove from nature now seems to be made necessary by the manifold knowledge and skills of our highly complex civilization." Hall painted an astonishing picture of the pedagogy of middle childhood. Whereas early childhood is a time for leaping in the field and splashing in the stream, in middle childhood the child must be "broken," like a young horse. At eight, the "human sapling" must "I concede reluctantly," be "transplanted" to the schoolhouse (xi). Now, the "senses are keen and alert, reactions immediate and vigorous, and the memory is quick, sure, and lasting, and ideas of space, time, and physical causation, and of many a moral and social licit and non-licit, are rapidly unfolding."
Here, the "pedagogic art consists of breaking the child into" the necessities... This is not true teaching but, of necessity, drill, "external and mechanical training." The form of knowledge must be acquired, not its content. "the method should be mechanical, repetitive, authoritative, dogmatic" (xii). For "reading, writing, drawing, manual training, musical technic, foreign tongues... the manipulation of numbers and of geometrical elements... can never be acquired later without a heavy handicap.
Middle and early childhood differ as "work differs from play," or "as the virility of man... differs from feminitity which excells in persuasive, sympathetic insight..." (xiii)
The Period from 14 to 24 Years
Adolescence.Adolescence is "a marvelous new birth" (xv), when "the higher and more completely human traits" appear; (Hall, 1904, p. xiii). Development now is less gradual, and as a result "proportions are lost," "old harmonies are broken." Nature "arms youth for conflict," in adolescence we see the changes that make men aggressive and prepare women for maternity.
But this "great revolution" often ends in perversion, or arrest, as insufficient "momentum of heredity" leads to "wreckage of body, mind, and morals" (xvi). So the "elements of personality" become less cohesive, looser. Girls in particular need "moral periodicity" above all else; something Hall says feminists persistently ignore.
This is a time of "reconstruction" and changing relations of "psychic functions." Sex "asserts its mastery" and "works its havoc" (xv). The adolescent "carves more knowledge of body and mind"; he "wakes to a new world and understands neither it nor himself." These new powers must be "husbanded and directed" for "everything is plastic" (xv).
And certainly Hall had a sense of culture and of history. In Hall's view the United States is "in a very pregnant psychological sense... an unhistorical land," that lacks "a gradual indigenous growth." It is "a first nation" whose constitution and religion are "imported ready-made." The U.S. "had neither childhood nor youth" (xvi) and so it has "lost touch with these stages of life because we lack a normal developmental history." In Hall's view this is not too young a nation but on the contrary one that is "precociously old." Despite its idiosyncracies, Hall had here the basis for a social critique; a rejection of developmental growth and change is too rapid, unnatural, too much "storm and stress."
"Sex asserts its mastery... and works its havoc."
Hall was a romantic, in every sense of the term. He looked backwards towards a lost Eden, a "pigmoid" life on the plains, whose "echoes," and "murmerings," he insisted could still be heard by those willing and sensitive enough to listen. Hall rejected, as we've seen, an academic concern solely with reason and knowledge as narrow and lacking in life. In Hall's view even the adolescent, hungry for knowledge, is unconcerned "The youth craves more knowledge of body and mind... and if his intellect is normal he does not vex his soul overmuch about the logical character of the universe or the ultimate sanction of either truth or virtue". Hall valued his intuitions, and those of the children he described.
|"In academic isolation from the throbbing life of the great world, with but faint interest in or acquaintance with nature, afield or even in the laboratory, in habitual communion with the second-hand sources of knowledge found in books, in the solitude of the study, the sedentary and mentally pampered thinker has lost reality and devotes himself to a passionate quest of it as if it were a Golden Fleece or a Holy Grail to be rediscovered or a sacred sepulcher to be won from the paynim scientists" (Hall, 1904, p. v-vi).|
Arnold Gesell (1880-1961)
Another significant figure in the biological-maturational paradigm, a generation later, was Arnold Gessel. Where Hall was romantic, Gesell, in contrast, was apollonion. For him, the link between psychology and biology was a scientific division of labor, not a source for the speculative imagination. The study of children's development was an appeal to current facts, not an invitation to conjure images of a distant life of the soul. (Not that he was entirely able to resist such conjuring on occasion.)
Gesell did write of child development throwing light on "the process of social organization itself," but its not clear that he appreciated the dialectical character of this process.
In an article on the topic of Child Psychology written for the Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences (1930), Gesell equated "development" with "growth." He attributed the new term "child development"--"protean but useful"--to child psychologys move to psychobiology. "Growth," he wrote, "is itself a unifying concept which removes undue distinctions between mind and body, between heredity and environment, between health and disease and also between separate scientific disciplines" (392-3). (Some of this might be read as directed against Hall.) The phenomena of growth "are subject to general and unifying laws which can be formulated only by coordinated contributions from several scientific domains" (392).
Gesell celebrated this, and the concommitant growth of the "psychotechnology" of testing and assessment. In time, he predicted, "the early span of human growth will come more fully under social control" (393). And "this is only the beginning of a policy of health supervision..." If mind and personality are subject to "the laws of growth," the goal of a scientific developmental psychology is to uncover these laws so as to achieve "a constructive and preventive supervision of human infancy" (393). Gesell considered this social control "justified by advancing scientific knowledge." Apparently, the more one knows, the more one is entitled to control.
Gesell also, noting that the infant "is a biological fragment of nature [but] he [sic] is also meshed in a web of human relationships" reasoned that "the system of child psychology which any culture achieves is an index of that culture." More convincingly, he wrote that it leads to "a deeper comprehension of the process of social organization itself."
Gesell undertook a series of highly detailed studies of development. His was a tendency to make subtle distinctions: Of the preschool years, he wrote, "The first five years... are the most fundamental and most formative." But then he distinguished five age intervals in the first year alone. And "In the second year the transformations are so great, and from a cultural standpoint so important, that special consideration is given to the ages of 15 months and 18 months" (61). Then "In the third year the intermediate age of 30 months proves to be so significant that it needs separate discussion."
The 18-month old manifests "run-about compulsions," and shows a spontaneous interest in conclusions. A "practical action system" provides "elementary insights into time and space."
"Five is a nodal age because it marks a transition from milk teeth to permanent molars. Physically and psychologically there are many suggestions that the child is reaching a stage of maturity which in a transfigured way corresponds to a very remote stage of life in the history of the race" (251).
The School Period.
In the years from 6 to 12, Gesell wrote, "Society some what formally introduces the American child to the tools and elements of its culture--reading, writing, and arithmetic, and the rudiments of literature, art, and science" (252). At this age the child is interested in the 'here and now,' fond of dramatics, but bound to the familiar. Ignorant of simple facts of life, she must acquire these facts. Vocabulary expands, as the child learns the names for qualities, differences and likenesses, not just for things and actions. Judgments are rather concrete, but they lay the foundation for abstractions and generalizations.
Early adolescence: 12-18 years.
The pre-adolescent, wrote Gesell, displays independence. He becomes a small business man, organizes gangs and clubs, competes with his fellows, often in inter-sexual antagonism. All this is "reminiscent of primitive tribal modes of behavior, greatly altered, of course, by the folkways of modern culture," (254) Gesell writes, and he cites G. Stanley Hall.
The pre-adolescent begins to think in terms of physical cause and effect, and shows insight into mechanisms and machines. He sours out of the here and now, and shows a self-detached interest in foreign people and distant lands. But "he has not yet come unto the organic inheritance of the most recent acquisitions of the racial nervous system. These await the teens" (255).
Later adolescence: 18-24 years.
Adolescence brings CNS and biochemical changes, and equally profound alterations of behavior patterns and emotional attitudes. Outlook upon self and upon culture undergo far-reaching reorientations. Gesell writes that "The higher human traits now make their appearance. They were acquired late in the history of the race; they naturally arrive late in the developmental cycle of the individual" (255). The adolescent is sensitive to adults'opinions, seeking models to imitate, heroes to worship. Extremely sensitized to cultural influences, a search is undertaken now for ideals. The adolescent shows "a strangely novel interest in abstract ideas. He pursues them in order to find himself" (256). As a result he moves hither and thither between ideas like a two and a half year old.
The Concept of Development in the Biological-Maturation Framework
Perhaps surprisingly, given the distinct stages he seems to place so much emphasis upon, Gesell insisted that development proceeds not "in a staircase manner or by installments. It is always fluent and continuous" (61). He wrote that "like the heavenly bodies the human life cycle is governed by natural laws. In surety and precision the laws of development are comparable to those of gravitation" (Gessel & Ilg, 59)
Surprisingly, there is a sophistication to both Halls and Gesell's conception of development that fails to confirm the stereotype of 'recapitulation.' Hall envisioned the past in constant tension with the present, as society either fosters or, more likely, thwarts the potential our heritage contains. One result of this constant exchange is that the future is open-ended: human nature is not fixed but constantly evolving, in a manner shaped by contemporary arrangements.
Hall viewed development as a recapitulation of past eons, but hardly as a simple matter of 'maturation.' Rather, the child and adolescent are plastic (especially the latter), open to the influence of social environment and its institutions of education and enculturation. In early childhood, to thrive the child needs the organic, objective world of nature; in middle childhood they require a rigid, mechanical training; in adolescence they awake to the need for a real education. In all of this Hall saw a normative timecourse: deviation from this in the form of delay or, worse, precocity can be produced by harmful influences.
This is clearly an account of the interaction between child and environment. The basic characteristics of each developmental stage are not given by an a priori biological nature, but are the product of a historical process, evolutionary in character--where qualities are acquired and then handed down. Nowdays we don't believe this possible (how could our species' prehistoric experiences on the savannah become encoded in the germ of a modern child?), and so our conception of human nature has become ahistorical, biological, and essential.
2. Behaviorist Framework
The behaviorist framework emphasized exogenous factors in development. Development or learning (for the two are not distinguished) was viewed as the "shaping" of behavior through rewards and punishment, conditioning; that is to say, through the arrangement of the external environment. Development was considered to be a gradual, continuous process---there are no stages in the behaviorist story of development.
The two main figures in this theoretical framework are John Watson and B. F. Skinner.
J. B. Watson (1878-1958)
In the 1920-1940s Watson conducted research on the
phenomena of classical conditioning.
B. F. Skinner's work dealt with 'operant' conditioning, in contrast to classical or 'respondent' conditioning. Operants are emitted responses (as we've noted, respondents are reflex responses). For example, the bar pressing behavior of a rat is an operant that Skinner was able to modify in multiple and systematic ways.
Skinner's paper "The concept of the reflex in the description of behavior" was derived from two classics of logical positivism: Ernst Mach's "Science of mechanics" and from Percy Bridgman's "Logic of modern physics." Skinner was determined that behaviorism would be as revolutionary in psychology as modern positivist physics (Einstein's relativity was interpreted in positivist terms). The first step was to be the reexamination of the observational basis of certain important concepts (just as physics had reexamined mass, velocity, duration and so on). Soon "mentalist" psychology, with its "subjective concepts" was dropped entirely. A concept such as "consciousness" was, in Skinner's view, as unscientific, speculative and unnecessary as that of "phlogiston." "What was wanted [instead] was a fresh set of concepts derived from a direct analysis of the newly emphasized data" (292). Even Boring's proposal for a methodological behaviorism became viewed as a weak apology for fuzzy concepts: "experience' is [just] a derived construct" (293), not part of a second realm of empirical phenomena.
Chomsky's Review of Skinner
We can learn about both behaviorism and its cognitivist successor by reading Noam Chomskys (1959) review of Verbal Behavior (B. F. Skinner, 1957). This remains a fascinating document, capturing a moment of transition in the history of psychology.
Chomsky is critical of the way Skinner offers an explanation
of behavior and learning and development
Chomsky insists that the connections must be of this
kind: S -> O -> R
1. stimulus According to Chomsky, Skinner cannot avoid circular reasoning in his 'operational' definition of the crucial concept of stimulus. In practice, Skinner is driven back into the organism to define a stimulus in terms of the way it is responded to; he cannot do it objectively. We cannot know what a stimulus is until a person responds; so we cant define S separately from R. And we cant predict which property of an object an individual will respond toso we cant in fact control behavior.
2. response- here too, Skinner offers no adequate answer to the question, what is the fundamental unit to human behavior?
3. reinforcement again the word is used
very loosely. It cannot be defined except circularly, in terms of response.
An example of the difficulties Skinner gets into: How can verbal behavior
be both (sometimes) reinforcing and (other times) not? And in Chomsky's
view, Skinner's claim that reinforcement is needed for language learning
is obviously false. Children learn to speak, and adults can learn new
sentences without being taught them. There is no specificity to Skinners
claims about reinforcement and language learning.
4. conditioning -- Skinner uses control when it would be more appropriate to use denote or refer. e.g. in what sense when I say Einsenhower am I under the control of the corresponding object?
Skinner is trying to talk about a causal relationship
between S and R. Chomsky argues that there is a semantic relationship
between organism and response; something representational.
This doesn't mean a retreat to speculative mentalism or introspection: after all the computer, says Chomsky, is a machine that can employ representations. This being so, a scientific study of representations and representational systems must be possible. This, according to Chomsky, is what psychology ought to be. And of course his own analysis of language as a representational system provides a model.
5. learning -- Chomsky argues that the learning of language must involve the child's recognition of complex features of verbal behavior. It cannot follow from conditioning alone; we need to understand also how the child represents what they hear. And there must be a strongly innate basis for this, Chomsky asserts. The structure of the human brain is such that, if the 'input' consists of heard Chinese sentences, then through "induction" brain will produce rules of Chinese grammar. But equally if the input is English the same process of induction will generate the rules of English grammar. This must, Chomsky asserts, be largely innate.
The Language Acquisition Device (LAD) generates the rules of particular languages
6. Skinners system of describing verbal behavior:
mands a verbal operant in which the R is reinforced by a characteristic consequence and is therefore under the functional control of relevant conditions of deprivation or aversive stimulation i.e., questions, commands. Skinner wants, in such a definition, to avoid any reference to the intention of the speaker; i.e., how a speaker represents their own speech.
tacts a verbal operant in which a response of given form is evoked (or at least strengthened) by a particular object or event or property of an object or event i.e., evoked by demands, assertions
To Chomsky the problem with these definitions is that they require Skinner to invoke drives related to all the things people ask for, and talk about? Ultimately even Skinner has to appeal to the intention of the speaker.
For example, Skinner proposes that prediction and control
are the goals of a parent.
Chomsky points out that, just as Skinners theory has no place meaning, it has no place for truth value; for the concept of truth. All swans are white Skinner can say nothing about the truth or falsity of this statement. What Skinner calls "autoclitics" are, Chomsky points out, better called assertion, negation, quantification, qualification, construction of sentences and highly complex manipulations of verbal thinking (p. 53).
3. Cognitive-Developmental Paradigm
Two central exemplars can effectively define the cognitive
theoretical framework. The first is that of Roger Brown, who
virtually single-handedly invented developmental psycholinguistics.
Brown was inspired by linguist Noam Chomsky, who in 1959 published a
devastating critique of Skinners 1957 book Verbal Behavior
[see above]. Chomsky had himself just published Syntactic Structures
(1957), and his work was having an influence outside linguistics, in
psychology, including developmental research. The second is the work
of Jean Piaget.
Why, for example, does (1) seem grammatical, while
(2) does not?:
(1) friendly young dogs seem harmless
The enthusiastic reception of Chomskys work,
and its impact on the new subdiscipline of developmental psycholinguistics
was made possible by a broader shift in thinking. Howard Gardner considers
the birth date of the cognitive revolution to be the Hixon
Symposium. In 1948 the Hixon Fund sponsored a
conference at the California Institute of Technology on cerebral
mechanisms in behavior. John von Neumann spoke on parallels between
the brain and the new electronic computer; Warren McCulloch spoke on
logical devices; Karl Lashley spoke on the problem of serial order
in behavior (how activities like playing tennis, playing a musical instrument,
and speaking show advance planning and organization of behavioral sequences,
presumably in a hierarchical manner). The proceedings of the symposium
were published in 1951.
In 1956 a symposium on information theory
was held at MIT. Alan Newell and Herbert Simon presented their Logic
Theory Machine, a computer able to provide a proof of a logical theory;
George Miller spoke on the magical number seven plus or minus
two, conceiving of human attention and memory in computational
terms; and Noam Chomsky spoke on three models of language.
As one recent review puts it:
In the collection of papers from 1954-1969 published
in 1970 as Psycholinguistics, Brown included a preface (written
in 1969) that summarized the influences on his work during the preceding
In the 1969 paper The Childs Grammar from
I to III Brown offered an overview of his work with Eve (18m-26),
Adam (27m-42), and Sarah (27m-48). Brown quotes
his excitement at the notion that when child learn to speak, they are
acquiring a grammar of precisely the kind Chomsky was describing.
Brown summarizes the elements of a transformation grammer,
and in doing so gives a useful sketch of Chomskys views.
A grammar is (1) a system of rules [formal re-writing
rules] that (2) derives [generates] (3) an infinite set of sentences
[thus it is creative and open-ended] that are (4) well formed [grammatical,
according to the intuitions of a native speaker], and it (5) assigns
to each sentence a correct structural description [a phrase structure]
through its (6) phase structural component [operating on hierarchical
tree structures, not just the surface sequence of words].
A complete grammar also contains a (7) lexical level [that replaces
grammatical symbols with words], (8) the latter two comprising the grammars
base structure. In addition it contains a (9) transformational
component [that permutes phrase-structure elements to generate related
forms such as imperative, interrogative, etc.], and a (10) phonological
component [operating on the morphophonemic level to replace lexical
items with appropriate sounds].
Browns A First language: The Early Stages
was published in 1973. In the introduction Brown offered his answer
to the question, What is this book about? It is about knowledge;
knowledge concerning grammar and the meanings coded by grammar.... The
book primarily presents evidence that knowledge of the kind described
develops in an approximately invariant form in all children, through
at different rates. There is also evidence that the primary determinants
of the order are the relative semantical and grammatical complexity
Brown described five major processes he considered
to constitute the core of (English) sentence construction, described
in both semantic and syntactic terms.
The Stages were numbered I-IV, and named either
for a process that is the major new development occurring in that interval
or for an exceptionally elaborate development of a process at that stage
In retrospect, it is easy to identify a number of problems
in the approach to language and its acquisition that Brown and his associates
adopted, under the influence of transformational (Chomskian) linguistics:
First, it is an approach that looks at the sentence
in isolation, assuming that meaning is carried (coded) entirely in grammar.
It is focused solely on syntactic expression: a simple
sentence, for example, is a declarative assertion. When Brown
used the term semantic he meant the semantics of propositions
or assertions. (cf. p. 29).
In fact, as Ninio and Snow (1999) point out, the meaning
of an uttered sentence depends on context, on speaker and hearer and
circumstances of production, on surrounding linguistic context, on presuppositions
and other tacit knowledge not part of the sentence (or even the utterance).
Children surely learn to attend to and use these elements when they
comprehend or produce spoken language.
Where Brown (following Chomsky) presumed that the syntactic
level of language could be studied in isolation, or even that language
is syntax, subsequent work in child language acquisition has moved further
and further into the study of pragmatics--of how talk is used to interpersonal
ends, in social situations. (For an early and controversial study of
child language in terms of its multiple functions c.f. Hallidays
Learning How to Mean, 1965.)
|Stage||Interesting errors||Constructions||Underlying Logic||Issue
Origins of Intelligence
Construction of Reality
construction of reality
e.g. object permanence
The two sides...
Origins of Intelligence: structure
Construction of Reality: interpretation
Space, Time, Causality, Object
practical groups(subjective ô objective)
Structure & function.
Kant's categories: Trans analytic
Discovery of self=discovery of world
Play, Dreams & Imitation
lack of conservation
egocentrism, centration, static & immobile,
concrete, irreversible, transductive reasoning
4 potentials [see above]
Slow evolution of the symbolic function
But (PDI) schema & object not differentiated
Mental action, but absence of stable equilibrium.
Primacy of assimilation=play
Primacy of accommodation= imitation
signifier [recall absent objects to mind]/signified [provided by thought]
Conditions for possibility of representation [not language]
reworked on a new level
private symbols-> public signs
socialization of thought by language
All the content books
New quality of thought; "solid cognitive bedrock, something flexible and plastic and yet consistent and enduring" (Flavell, 165).
But doesn't deal with the potential
Quantity, measurement, S, T.
Number, addn, sub., classification
A system of thought, with permanent equil.
9 Groupings... class, relations
4 liquids task.
hypothetico-deductive, propositional, combinatorial.
Mental action not on objects, events, properties, but on propositions, assertions, statements.
2 kinds of negation.
Full reflexivity: see Levi-Strauss on structuralism [ below]
Individual as subject of knowledge, and object of knowledge.
Levi-Strauss writes in Totemism:
The method we adopt... consists in the following
1. define the phenomenon under study as a relation between two or more terms, real or supposed:
2) construct a table of possible permutations between these terms;
3) take this table as the general object of analysis which, at this level only, can yield necessary connections, the empirical phenomenon considered at the beginning being only one possible combination among others, the complete system of which must be constructed beforehand (Totemism, cited in Dreyfus & Rabinow, 1982, p. xvi).
This of course sounds exactly like formal operational thinking! We're seeing here another reflexivity to Piagets work. Its often said that Piaget was interested in the childs becoming a scientist; it would be more accurate to say that his interest was the childs becoming a structuralist.
The fourth, and most recent, theoretical framework in the history of psychology is the topic of a separate section of these web pages, to which the link above will transport you!