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3V0516.01 Naming cars; relation of teaching and exploration (6/22/79)

Riding Back from graduation at MIT, Peggy frequently pointed at trucks
passing in the opposite direction with her squeals of delight. We
named them for [her] “truck,” “van.” We all over subsequent days
continued this on local trips where the distinction was often made
between trucks and cars (the latter seen more frequently). This
gradually became passé.

Today, Peggy sat in her car seat, nobody paying any particular
attention. As we passed any car either on the road or parked, she
would point and say /ka/, once for each vehicle.

Relevance — This incident touches upon the problem of language use by
others, learning to recognize and associate specific sounds and
objects, and then the appearance [of] those sounds as labels in speech
production. This case shows a lag of several weeks from the beginning
of the social instruction, its becoming boring to the ‘teachers.’ The
drop in interest by others perhaps inspired Peggy to extend herself
from recognizing correspondences to producing them herself. The
slight ‘vacuum’ gave her room and motive (?) to expand her
performance. If this be a typical pattern, it implies that the best
procedure for investigating Peggy’s growing knowledge and
competence — (best for bringing it out in explicit, public behavior) —
is to cut off any verbal prompting, letting the pragmatics of the
situation call forth whatever she is capable of.

Could this be the method of “natural instruction” — and an explicit
model for education. [marginal note, partly missing: …sensitive…this
sort of instruction]

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