[lit-ideas] Re: The Order of Aurality [children and color words]

  • From: "Adriano Palma" <Palma@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2012 14:05:52 +0200

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** Reply Requested by 3/14/2012 (Wednesday) **

& why on earth should I listen to piaget?

>>> Andy <mimi.erva@xxxxxxxxx> 3/14/2012 1:55 PM >>>
That was an unfortunate juxtaposition of sentences on my part.  Writing
maketh the exact man.  Let's try it again, this time with a paragraph

I think abstract reasoning kicks in about at about age seven or so. 
[Paragraph separation]
Does a child that young [referring to the 2-year old children John was
talking about, way younger than 7] even know colors?  

I thought that was obvious and didn't understand why Julie deleted the
context.  In addition, I doubt that John was talking about blue cookies
and red cookies but using them as, how shall we say, objective
correlatives.  Likewise there is a distinction between intuitive knowing
and naming. 
Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia on Piaget and the work he did on
reasoning in children: 
The Symbolic Function Substage
Occurs between about the ages of 2 and 7. At 2-4 years of age, kids
cannot yet manipulate and transform information in logical ways, but
they now can think in images and symbols. The child is able to formulate
designs of objects that are not present. Other examples of mental
abilities are language and pretend play. Although there is an advance in
progress, there are still limitations such as egocentrism and animism.
Egocentrism occurs when a child is unable to distinguish between their
own perspective and that of another person's. Children tend to pick
their own view of what they see rather than the actual view shown to
others. An example is an experiment performed by Piaget and Barbel
Inhelder. Three views of a mountain are shown and the child is asked
what a traveling doll would see at the various angles; the child picks
their own view compared to the actual view of the doll. Animism is the
belief that inanimate objects are capable of actions and have lifelike
qualities. An example is a child believing that the sidewalk was mad and
made them fall down.[6] (
http://us.mg3.mail.yahoo.com/neo/#cite_note-Santrock8-5 )
The Intuitive Thought Substage
Occurs between about the ages of 4 and 7. Children tend to become very
curious and ask many questions; begin the use of primitive reasoning.
There is an emergence in the interest of reasoning and wanting to know
why things are the way they are. Piaget called it the intuitive substage
because children realize they have a vast amount of knowledge but they
are unaware of how they know it.'Centration' and 'conservation' are both
involved in preoperative thought. Centration is the act of focusing all
attention on one characteristic compared to the others. Centration is
noticed in conservation; the awareness that altering a substance's
appearance does not change its basic properties. Children at this stage
are unaware of conservation.Example, In Piaget's most famous task, a
child is presented with two identical beakers containing the same amount
of liquid. The child usually notes that the beakers have the same amount
of liquid.When one of the beakers is poured into a taller and thinner
container, children who are younger than 7 or 8 years old typically say
that the two beakers no longer contain the same amount of liquid, and
the taller container holds the larger quantity. The child simply focuses
on the height and width of the container compared to the general
concept.[6] ( http://us.mg3.mail.yahoo.com/neo/#cite_note-Santrock8-5 )
If children were capable of gradations of color, McDonald's would use
them.  Instead, they use primary colors.  
Children are way overrated (and underrated) for what they can
understand.  CPS workers, who are obviously people trained in
developmental stages and family dynamics, will never interview a child
without first asking him/her what's a truth, what's a lie.  That's why I
used the real life example of my 2-year old niece saying please don't
die mommy when my sister-in-law said "I'm dying, it's so hot in here." 
The 2-year old took it literally.  I once had a friend who thought his
kid was brilliant because at dinner the kid (also about 2), while the
mother was serving, said "hurry".  Clearly, to his credit my friend
understood that "hurry" is an abstract idea for a child.  However,
children are great parrots.  They speak much better than they
understand.  It's very possible, and probably likely, the child was
simply using a word he had heard before without necessarily
understanding the ramifications of it.  Or he was just brilliant, that's
certainly a possibility.  Another example of not necessarily abstract
reasoning but of cryptic motivation, is after the Scotland shootings at
the school, the children reenacted the shooting.  Bizarre, until it was
realized that that's how the children were processing the tragedy.  An
onlooker might say gee, they thought it was a source of entertainment. 
No.  They were simply working it through psychologically in their own
way.  Veering a bit off the subject here, but years ago I made the
argument that the Godzilla movies were efforts to process the nuclear
attacks by the Japanese people.  The Japanese made one Godzilla movie
after another until they no longer needed to.
That's what annoys me about movies like "Home Alone" and the
commercials with the talking babies.  They spread false ideas about what
children can and cannot understand, leading to even worse caretaking
ultimately.  Again a bit off the subject, but maybe it's the incongruity
of the powerless having power that's the source of the humor?  Humor as
a way of feeling superior?  Funny or not, ultimately they do not further
understanding of how children think or don't think.
I hope I made myself clearer this time.  Still working on that abstract
reasoning myself...

From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 10:56 PM
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: The Order of Aurality [children and color

I think abstract reasoning kicks in about at about age seven or so. 
Does a child that young even know colors?  

Andy: I don't know why you picked these ages; that is, what sources you

Most children know some things about colors, e.g. the typical colors of
familiar objects, between 2 and 3, although they often 
make mistakes about some colors 'in the abstract,' (where the color is
not the color of a familiar thing—the sky, grass, the family dog).
But there's no such thing as 'knowing colors' tout court. There's a
fairly complex route from knowing the colors of a child's wooden
blocks to seeing the colors, gradations of colors, and colors for which
we have no ready-made names, in Jackson Pollock's 'Lavender
Mist,' in the National Gallery:


'Abstract reasoning.' begins much earlier than 'about seven or so.'

At least two or three years earlier, in many cases—here, I speak from
experience, pace Hume.

Julie is right to wonder about your original claims.

Robert Paul

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