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Vn00803

Vn008.03

Doing the Hula

5/12/77


Despite Miriam’s success with the foot centered hula twist, she was unable to keep the hoop from falling down. She holds the hoop with both hands in front and a part of it against her back. She throws it in one direction or the other, moving her trunk in no clear way (it’s very hard to see any pattern because the hoop falls so quickly).

Over the following days, several people showed their skill in the Logo foyer. (Playing with the hoop was a favorite pastime on Miriam’s breaks from our sessions). Sherry Turkle claimed having once been champion of Brooklyn and gave a demonstration. So did Donna and many of those who wandered through. Miriam improved rapidly. Her later description of how to keep the hoop from falling: “It’s easy. Just keep pushing your belly in and out,” I believe puts at the surface what she saw as significant in her observations of others’ practice.

Vn01301

Vn013

Phonemics

5/23/77


In discussions some weeks ago with a distinguished Genevan psycholinguist, the question of instructing children in phonetics came up. My earlier work on children’s conception of wordhood (‘Pre-Readers’ Concept of the English Word’) and pig-latin (not available) had convinced me that children should learn how to read before delving into phonetics. (Such a point of view is contrary to much current practice in late kindergarten and early first year instruction). My colleague considered it an aberration in American education to emphasize phonetics as an introduction to reading.

Miriam now reads well, at what is generally considered the second grade level (see ‘Miriam at 6: Reading’ for more detailed infor-mation). I speculate confidently that her reading vocabulary is several thousand words. She now knows enough to appreciate the value of knowledge about the correspondence (and lack thereof) between English phonemic and lexical structure. The following observations record the upsurgence of Miriam’s interest in phonemic variation:

In the spring and summer of last year, one of Miriam’s favorite games was bouncing on my knees. We would sing the familiar chant:

Ride a horse to Boston,
Ride a horse to Lynn.
Careful when you get there,
Don’t fall in!

The child rides facing the bouncer, whose knees are the horse. On the last line, the adult separates his knees, and the child tries not to “fall in.” Boston was a place I went to. Lynn was the neighbor who lived across the street from our Connecticut home. (Miriam has yet to discover the existence of Lynn, Massachusetts). The other common variant chant is:

Trot, trot to Boston
To buy a loaf of bread.
Trot, trot home again,
The old horse is dead.

I introduce this history to enforce the idea of how well known are these rhymes to Miriam.

Today at lunch, having finished earlier than Gretchen and me who sat talking and unattentive, Miriam picked up a large rag doll, put it on her lap, and chanted (quietly, to herself):

side a sorse to soston,
side a sorse to synn.
sareful sen sou set sere,
son’t sall sin.

Then:

ide a orse to oston,
ide a orse to ynn.
areful en ou et ere,
on’t all in.

And then:

fide a forse fo foston,
fide a forse fo fynn.
fareful fen fou fet fere,
fon’t fall fin.

It is clear that phonemic separation is an issue that engages Miriam now.

Relevance

Although she knows that letter represent sounds, it is not clear that Miriam understands the way in which phonetic knowledge will help her with reading. She may. Do note, however, that Miriam was introduced to phoneme separation two weeks ago (confer Logo session 5) through using my pig-latin system to drive the voice box. Five days ago, Miriam selected that activity as one she wanted to engage in (confer Logo session 10) even though I attempted to dissuade her from it by arguing that the programs I had available were limited and the output boring. Today I asked Miriam what I should plan for tomorrow: story writing, drawing, voice box. . . we didn’t always have to play SHOOT or READY, AIM, FIRE. “Voice box,” she exclaimd. “That’s what I want for tomorrow.”

Vn01601

Vn016

Binet Test

5/27/77


Miriam has known for over a week that our next trip into Boston would be for taking a test. I had introduced her to the idea with the explanation that nearly everyone takes such a test some time and that she was simply taking this test earlier than most other children. So, after kindergarten and a rousing 2 hours with her playgroup (see Home Session 3), Miriam put on a dress and we took the Green Line into the center of Boston.

Miriam had earlier expressed concern that she didn’t know how to get ready for this test. (The only other test formally so defined to her was having her ears checked. She apparently does not think of our experiments at Logo as being tests.) This concern surfaced again as we waited for the trolley car. “Daddy, what kind of questions did they ask you?” I could recall only one question from an earlier intelligence test (25 years ago). “They asked me who was the president before Franklin Roosevelt.” “Who was it?” Thinking she now had the inside track, Miriam asked who was the president before Carter, and before him, and before that one. We stopped at Eisenhower when the trolley came.

It was a beautiful day as we strolled through the Common, stopped at an ice cream store, and continued to the testing center. Miriam was clearly content and relaxed when she went with the tester. She was also relaxed and pleased with herself when she had finished.

Although we need wait another week or so for a formal evaluation, the tester offered these general comments: since Miriam had just turned 6, she began with the age 6 series; Miriam had to be confronted with questions from the eleven year old series before she failed to get at least some of them correct; they have never had to go through so many series with such a young child in their laboratory. I believe the comments need be put in this perspective: the laboratory (Tufts-New England Medical Center Neuropsychology Section) typically is called upon to diagnose problems. Thus, they do not see as a matter of course so young a child as Miriam who has no immediately caused requirement for such a test.

In the evening before going to bed, I asked Miriam if the questions were difficult or easy and if she tried hard to answer them. She responded that she tried as hard as she could, but that some of the questions were just too difficult for her to answer. She was pleased with her performance — having overheard the comment about never having to go through so many tests with a child her age; she was proud that she “did better than anybody else.” Her only gripe was that they didn’t ask her a single question about the presidents.

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Vn03401

Vn034.01 Candle Fire Crackers 6/23/77

We usually dine by candlelight. We enjoy making candles and
using them, and the ill distribution of light in our dining area makes
this practice a useful enjoyment. Having agreed that he will not play
with fire, Robby has the responsible job of candle man: he brings the
candles to the table, lights them, and when the penny candles in old
bottles burn down, he replaces them. Having made a 1 stick candelabrum
in school (a ring of cardboard with pasted-on, brightly painted maca-
roni shells), Miriam after giving it to the family as a present reserves
its use to herself and the responsibilities pertaining thereto (lighting
it and blowing it out).

For some reason during the dinner Robby blew out a candle (per-
haps to replace one burned dowm). Miriam took this as her cue to blow
out hers. To minimize the air pollution Gretchen wet her fingers and
doused the smoke producing embers in the wick. Shortly thereafter, when
she attempted to re-light her candle, Miriam heard the sputtering
crackle made by the flame on the wet wick. “That sounds like a fire
cracker!” Questions immediately arose: what makes the candle sputter?
why doesn’t it light? It does now? Oh. Why didn’t it light before?
Because Mommy spit on it, the water. Miriam, Seymour, and I had just
been discussing the Piagetian experiments done earlier in the project.
I allowed that I thought Miriam most enjoyed the conservation of con-
tinuous quantity experiment because of the water play in pouring the
liquids from one container to another. (Miriam corrected my misappre-
hension: she most enjoyed the experiment of constructing tracks [cf.
Miriam at 6]). Thus it was a natural continuation that we indulge in
a little water play, even at supper. Seymour asked Miriam if she
thought she could make it happen again. I got her a small glass with
water in it. Miriam took her candle and inverted it inside the glass
slightly above the water. It went out. When she brought it to the
flame, the candle lit immediately without sputtering.

Miriam Hey! Why didn’t it work?
Seymour Did it go in the water?
Miriam It went out.
Seymour Try it again, just to be sure the end goes in the water.

Miriam dunked her candle in the water and upon the attempt to relight
it sputtered and crackled before catching fire. Miriam tried the
dunking again and it still worked. She remained curious as to why
the candle went out at first. Robby suggested that with the candle
inverted, the flame wanted to go up, but had no place to go, so it
went out. I suggested we make sure it wasn’t the water by holding the
candle about 2″ above the surface. Miriam did so, watching carefully.
“It’s the wax that does it!” Seymour asked, “Does it need to be in the
glass at all?” Miriam proved that it did not by inverting her re-lit
candle over a napkin.

Relevance
This vignette highlights the role of engaging phenomena, e.g.
the surprising crackling sound from a candle, and the supportive
milieu in leading a child into those discoveries that constitute his
knowledge. The rich environment is less one rich in objects than it
is one rich in surprise, in the stepwise exploration of which the
child confronts alternative plausible explanations of those phenomena.
Obviously, since this surprise derives from the child’s ignorance,
what engages one child need not engage another.

Vn04001

Vn40.1 Logo After Hours 7/4/77

During the bicentennial year Miriam was too young to enjoy the
fireworks. She was frightened by the noise of amateurs’ exploding
firecrackers and so sleepy by 9 o’clock that we abandoned a half-
hearted attempt to watch the display from the vantage of Corey Hill
in Brookline. Radio forecasts promised this year a smaller crowd
and a more impressive exhibition than last year. Uncertain that we
would be near Boston in the future, I decided the children should
seize this opportunity to see the biggest fireworks display on the
east coast.

Having heard of how impossible is parking near the Charles, I
brought my family to Logo early in the evening. We all casually enter-
tained ourselves while waiting for nightfall. Gretchen and Robby occu-
pied themselves with reading, Miriam with drawing (Robby did that too)
and making letters. I reviewed material in various workspaces on the
Logo system, to refresh my memory with possibilities for future work
with the childlren. I showed Robby (but not Miriam) Danny Hillis’
“STRING” design procedure and an elaboration I had made thereon for
developing Lissajous figures. He was impressed, but drawn away by
witnessing the Cambridge police respond to an apparent mugging on the
corner of Main and Vassar. Miriam wanted to use the Slot Machine but
it did not work (as we had discovered earlier in the day: cf. Logo
Session 34A). We all watched the traffic build to an impenetrable
mass as dark approached.

We walked to Memorial Drive near the foot of Longfellow Bridge and
beheld that crowd of evening picnickers who had come prepared with
incredible paraphernalia and seized all the choice locations early on.
The air was acrid and pulsating from the frequent but irregular ex-
plosions by amateur incendiaries. The children’s chronic impatience
was only relieved by the distraction of fudge popsicles and the dis-
tressingly late beginning of the fireworks. Very few seemed to care
that hearing the 1812 Overture was impossible until the cannon fire
declared the beginning of the long-awaited fireworks. The display was
worth the waiting. Even though they were quite tired, both children
were excited and delighted.

At the end of the show, we repaired to Logo to await there the
subsidence of the traffic. We were all glad to find the lab occupied
by friends. Miriam perched herself on Margaret Minsky’s lap and
announced that we’re going to have a baby. Upon hearing that Danny
Hillis was back from Texas on a visit, we all trooped up to Marvin’s
office and interjected ourselves into their conversation. Miriam seized
Danny’s lap as her own property, and I shanghaied him to repair the
Slot Machine so that the two-terminal experiment could be executed the
next day (this was essential because of rearranging the lab for the
summer high school program). After Danny did a little magic to make
the Slot Machine work, we sat talking til midnight with Margaret, Bruce
Edwards, and Ellen Hildreth.

Relevance
These notes record the casual use of Logo as a place to pass the
time and meet friends.

Vn06901

Vn69.1 Chatterbox 8/19/77

In Vignette 3, I noted one of my objectives was to render Miriam
more willing to reveal her thoughts than was formerly the case. Such
a change has gradually but very definitely taken place. Gretchen now
complains that Miriam is never quiet, that she talks about every least
action she undertakes; for example, “I’m taking my dishes over to the
sink.” A more typical example is what Miriam said just now. (She is
making a “card” for a friend; Gretchen and I are sitting in the same
room, 10′ and 20′ away.

Miriam

I am coloring the flower red. . . and blue. . . and now yellow. . . .
I am coloring the cloud white, Daddy, isn’t that a good idea?
Bob

Yes.
Miriam

Do you know why I am making the cloud cry?
Bob

No.
Miriam

Because the sun is very hot and it can’t rain.

This is a description of ongoing action, mixed with request for approval
and her explanation for the meaning of her drawing.

First ask is it a good thing for Miriam to be so open at this
point in her life? I believe it is good now and that she will eventually
learn when to bite her tongue. What is one to make of the very
pervasiveness of Miriam’s chatter? Is this a regression of sorts to
ego-centric speech? I choose to think of it differently, in a way
recently suggested to me by Laurie Miller. In this view, Miriam is
giving evidence that she has discovered self-description as an inter-
esting thing to do. . . and is overdoing it. (Recall G. B. Shaw’s asking,
in a paraphrase from the book of Proverbs, “How can you know what
enough is, unless you’ve had too much?”) Such self-description may
result from the reflection and explanation I have asked of her in the
Piagetian tasks of April’s experiments as well as from the rudimentary
debugging we have undertaken in our Logo sessions.

In the little snippet of dialogue above, Miriam was not using the
description of her actions for any purpose which is reflected back into
the action. However, to the extent that she articulates her actions,
it is clear that she can reflect upon them when that engages her interest.

Relevance
This vignette notices the change Miriam shows in the public
description of her actions. This indicates she has available descriptions of
her action upon which she can reflect if she finds such an activity
interesting.

Vn08301

apparently, this file needs to be recreated, from earlier sources.
The tags attached to the source suggest it is important.

Vn08601

Vn86.1 An Unexpected Test 9/8/77

Today, the children’s first day of school, was a tough one for me. The combination of a late arrival at Logo and logistics problems put our work under an unusual time pressure. Miriam was tired (and later said she wished she had taken a nap) and didn’t pursue with enthusiasm her exploration of good numbers for the SEAHORSE (an INSPI procedure). Thus, she yielded up the remainder of her time when I was reluctant to let her have a break. Robby, in his turn started off in what was a normal fashion for him, but soon we ran into a problem, the extent of his reactions to which I still can not fathom. The session with Robby was dreadful, the worst so far since our project began. He was confused, began crying, but refused to stop our session; his allergy caused stuffy nose made his crying dreadful. His reasons for sorrow increased when he began lamenting the time lost which he could have spent making designs,,,, Affairs finally reached such an impasse, we just gave up on the day.

After a few minutes alone, trying to regroup my scattered aims for the day, I carried the video camera into the storage room and saw Glenn (a graduate student) doing paper folding games with the children in the foyer of our lab. Because Glenn enjoys playing with the children and is good at it, seeing them together made me uneasy. Twice through chance, through the availability of materials, and through enjoying games to which I have heightened Miriam’s sensitivity, he has performed before me, in effect, experiments I was developing (confer Vignettes 8 and 77). When I saw peeping out from under a pile for other papers they were folding, the sheet I in Addendum 86-1, I realized my five month long, complete collection of data on Miriam’s development in Tic Tac Toe was in jeopardy.

I asked Glenn to try to reconstruct the move patterns of the games they had played. His notes are on the 3×5 card shown in Addendum 86-1.

Game 1: Miriam moves first (letters)

          A | 4 | D
          C | 1 | 2
          3 | E | B

Glenn remarked on Miriam’s telling him, after her move B, that should he move in either of the other corners, she would win. He did not move there.

Game 2: Glenn moves first (numbers)

          A | 3 | B
          D | 1 | 4
          5 | C | 2

Miriam and I have not played this game to the best of my recall. Note that had Miriam moved in a space adjacent to A, this diagonal configuration would have permitted the opening to gain two ways to win, thus:

          A | B | 3
            | 1 |   
            |   | 2 

Game 3: Miriam moves first (letters)

          A | O | X
          X | X | O
          O | X | O

Glenn’s only dependable recollection of this game is that Miriam opened at the corner. The tie must have followed one of these patterns of a symmetric variation:

          A | C | 3           A | C | 3           A | E | 3
          4 | 1 | E           4 | 2 | E           1 | 2 | C 
          D | 2 | B           D | 1 | B           D | 4 | B
              A                   B                   C

The data of Vignettes 71 and 85 argue that game A was most likely the one played (I believe Miriam would have beaten him had Glenn responded to her opening with B or C.

Game 4: Glenn moves first (numbers)

          A |   | 2 
          C | 3 | 1 
          4 |   | B

Glenn notes that Miriam requested he place his marl at the location of 1. Recall Miriam’s comment (at the time of game 7 in Vignette 61) that she would attempt to get Robby to make such a move so that she could play her newly learned tactic on him. When I asked Miriam, while discussing the game with Glenn, how he had beat her, she was a little apologetic, saying, “Well, gee, Daddy, you can’t win all the time. I guess I must have made a mistake.” She speculated further (at least agreed to my suggestion) that she missed a forced move. As game 5 shows, Miriam learned well how with a corner opening she could defeat an opponent responding with a far, mid-row move. This particular game suggests that she had not yet accommodated her configuration based view of the game to the relative advantage obtaining to the opening player. (Notice her foiling this same opening of Glenn’s in game 6 by abandoning the corner move.)

Game 5: Miriam moves first (letters)

          A | D | C
          2 | 3 | 
          B | 1 | 

Glenn seemed a little surprised at my suggestion that Miriam ‘knew what she was doing’ (i.e. executed a game-length strategy) as she beat him here. When asked her opinion of Glenn as a player, Miriam allowed that he was pretty good. Glenn acknowledged that Miriam did make all forced moves.. . and showed a surprising inclination to adopt the corner opening.

Game 6: Glenn moves first (numbers)

          3 | C | 2
          5 | A | 1
          D | 4 | B

This game is notable in showing how quickly Miriam abandons the losing strategy of game 4. I believe this is the third game she has played with a mid-row (non-center) opening.

Relevance
This vignette raises two issues. First, how does Miriam apply in other situations what she has learned n the structured sessions of this project? Second, how complete can these data really be? It is clear from game 4 that when the knowledge is directly applicable (as in playing Tic Tac Toe with a new opponent), Miriam applies that knowledge directly in a minimally modified form. (She hopers to catch a “naive” opponent with her preceptor’s “dirty trick.”) Learning anew, at her cost, that a significant attribute was not marked in her formulation (its success depending on the corner opening move), Miriam when confronting the same opening a second time retreated to a seize-the-center play (this reduces maximally the opening player’s chances to win).

How complete can these data be? If it be the case that Miriam interacting with one person on the occasions described here and in Vignettes 8 and 77, engages in three significant ventures in learning, must it not also be true that other such incidents occurred which have escaped my notice? I think not. The extent of time I spend with the children and the sensitivity to precisely this sort of influence argue that not much has been missed.

Addendum 86-1

Games with Lab Student

Vn 86-1 Games with grad student

Vn11201

Vn112.1 How Her Teacher Sees Miriam 12/7/77

Miriam’s teacher, Sue, sees her as a special child in several ways.
Her surprise at Miriam’s easy solution of class inclusion problems (cf.
Vignette 90, Meeting Miriam’s Teacher) shows she had reason outside of
anything I told her in our first meeting. She learned of Miriam’s continuing
work at the Logo project and was favorably impressed by our links
with the now-respectable scientist Piaget. Thus Miriam appears special
by developmental progress for her age and by the experience of her ongoing
engagement in a serious study.

As The Intimate Study concluded, the children asked if they could
bring their classmates over to visit Logo. I agreed to help them work
that out if they wanted to, on condition that a few children came at one
time and that Robby and Miriam be the ones who ran the show. Both accepted
this scenario as the best one. Robby suggested that their teachers
be first to visit (I don’t know why). Miriam was not keen on the idea
but didn’t argue enough to undermine Robby’s support of the plan. About
the middle of November, the two teachers spent approximately 2 hours at
Logo. The children showed off their computer pictures and their desks,
then explained their work to the teachers. I stayed in the background
as much as possible. Both wanted to play Wumpus, but because this was
confusing to their teachers, they showed them SHOOT and its variations,
explaining the primitives and exhibiting the arithmetic tasks the game
involved them in. Otherwork included the use of POLYSPI and INSPI,
drawings, and a text manipulation work. I believe the teachers were
impressed by the work and the children’s command of it. Sue’s note (see
Addendum 112 – 1) witnesses her response.

Yesterday Gretchen met with Sue for an evaluation conference. (The
report is attached as Addendum 112 – 2, 3, and 4). I was unable to attend
the meeting, but Gretchen recalls these comments:

- Miriam gets a great deal of pleasure from seeing and playing with 
     her school friends.
- Miriam always did her work with a great deal of attention to detail, even
     if she was merely drawing to fill in time between organizeed activities.
- Miriam didn't copy from other people, either to get directions 
     for what she should be doing or to get an idea.
- Miriam cooperated and worked well with her classmates, but not 
     merely that. She tried to help them and was able to do so.
- Miriam seemed to enjoy solving problems. Her focus was not on getting 
     the answer; she seemed to enjoy the process of working out problems, 
     to take pleasure in the process more than in the result.

Relevance
These notes record a view of Miriam independent from mine.

Addendum 112-1

Note from Miriam’s Teacher

Vn 112-1 Teacher note

Addendum 112-2

Conference Report, page 1

Vn 112-2 Conference report, pg 1

Addendum 112-3

Conference Report, page 2

Vn 112-3 Conference report, pg 2

Addendum 112-4

Conference Report, page 3

Vn 112-4 Conference report, pg 3