Skip to content
Archive with last of tag-string W75


3V0527.01 Spontaneous naming [shoe] (2 different examples) (7/3/79)

This morning before breakfast Peggy was playing in our room. She
picked up one of Bob’s moccasins and said, “Shoe.” Shortly thereafter
she picked up one of his deck shoes and repeated, “Shoe.” Gretchen.


3V0528.01 Naming [shoe]#3. Silly instruction? “Right, that’s a shoe and you put it
on your head” [foot]…[but = clasp] (7/4/79)

This morning Peggy played in the bedroom as I sat in my chair. Peggy
picked up one of Gretchen’s white sandals and said [shoe]. Gretchen
asked if I heard. I said so and then to Peggy, “Right. That’s a shoe and
you put it on your head.” Peggy looked puzzled by my nonsense and
after a short pause said /fut/, which I interpret as [foot]. She then
pointed to the clasp and said /b/\t/.

Relevance — This bit of nonsense I said shows, by her response, not
merely that Peggy knows shoes go on feet but that [she] applied some
understanding of what I said to what she was doing and knew, rejected
what I said and expressed her own idea. I am somewhat confused now
about why I think this is important. [Later addition: no longer so. cf.
Mallory’s [Selfridge] “Joshua, get on the tape recorder.”]


3V0531.01 COUNTING: beginning of notes. Cookies, hands, and counting (7/7/79)

During interviews at IBM, Moshe Zloof raised the question of whether
or not, in effect, counting is innate. I told him the question was a big
one about which I felt no one could speak with authority but that I had
very strong prejudices. As an example of the kind of experience from
which I felt the knowledge of counting might develop, I cited Peggy’s
reception of cookies. After convincing us to get her a cookie, Peggy
would sometimes open her mouth to receive it directly. More
commonly, she would hold out her hand (usually the right), take the
cookie, and put it in her mouth. Some time ago (we neither can recall
just when), in a situation where a whole stack of cookies was available,
Peggy requested and received a cookie for each hand. In some
circumstances, Peggy ended up transferring two cookies to one hand
and eating a cookie sandwich. The final step, which I witnessed but
can’t date, was Peggy requesting a cookie for each hand, then
transferring the right cookie to the left hand and requesting another.
In this little series of incidents, we see one-to-one correspondence and
a procedure for “getting one more”. These two are enough to base a
counting system on.

Today, Peggy began picking up all the various things on my chair side
table. I gave her three small bean bags to play with. The game of
choice became putting them in my palm and removing them. The
material scraps from which the bean bags were made are all colorful
and quite different from one another. She removed them several ways:
by ones, two first, and two last. When my hand was empty, she twice
scratched my palm after removing the third bag.

Peggy was much engaged with this bean bag play, talking all the while
(the talk is recorded on audio tape #3). I intend to play with these
little bags during our next experiment on videotape. Let’s see if we can
catch the development of Peggy’s knowledge of counting.