reflection paper


The “IMAGINARY” Oral machinery was called upon today! Sucking, biting, masticating, gnawing, blowing, tonguing those pleasurable Blow Pops and Tootsie Roll Pops! All of this was done in honor of one of our very first Schemas (framework used to understand and build our lives), the Sucking Schema (innate and reflexive), which emerged in utero with thumb-sucking. Jean Piaget served as our guide today with his life-long research on how we come to KNOW (Epistemology). As we build our complex world of Schemas, we are constantly Assimilating (fitting into an existent Schema) and Accommodating (creating new Schemas). Piaget called this alternating cycle, Adaptation (Learning — but actively constructing our own minds). The infant uses the grasp and suck Schemas to bring all items to the joy and comfort of the mouth and operates on the principle that “all things are suckable.” Until he picks up a Jalapeno pepper, that is, and he must Accommodate and create a new Schema that “painfully hot substances are not suckable!” Likewise, the “fly-swatting” Schema has to allow for exceptions like the insect with a stinging appendage! We learn to just let the hornet fly away when it loses interest. I presented you with the prospects of a novel object called a “Gloquex.” As you watched me with this piece of “invisible” equipment, some of you used Assimilation as a means of comparing it with a familiar object (radio, typewriter/keyboard, SciFi equipment, wave measuring devices, etc.). Accommodation occurs when we learn something new (Ni hui shuo Zhongwen, ma?), and in the classroom you are faced with this challenge on a regular basis. We further looked at Piaget’s theory of Cognitive (thinking) development stages: Sensorimotor, Pre-Operational, Concrete Operational & Formal Operational (pp. 293-297 in bound e-text and 130-134 in Grison text). Piaget uses the term “operations” to refer to logical processing. The Pre-Operational stage (age 3 or so to 6 or 7) is particularly compelling since it is characterized by “magical” thinking. This is a period of expansive imagination and pretend play. It is a “Prelogical” stage: “Clearly the child’s reasoning did not rest on an inarticulate or poorly formulated logic; it wasn’t a clumsy attempt at adult logic. It owed nothing to that logic. It rested instead on something else, another world — a world that Piaget has been exploring for a long time.” (Jean Claude Bringuier, Conversations With Jean Piaget, p. 33) Piaget discovered that children in this stage had a difficult time “Conserving” properties like volume, mass, number and weight. “Reversible” thinking (understanding that a basic amount does not change even though we alter its appearance) is a big challenge for us at this age (Pre-Op), yet when we reach the Concrete Operational stage (7 or so to 12), we handle it quite adeptly. This last group loves Conservation jokes like the following one from David Myers’ text: “Mr. Jones went into a restaurant and ordered a whole pizza for his dinner. When the waiter asked him if he wanted it cut into 6 or 8 pieces, Mr. Jones said, ‘Oh, you’d better make it 6, I could never eat 8 pieces!'” (Davis Myers, Exploring Psychology, p. 108) The Pre-Operational stage is also a time of “Egocentrism” in that it is hard for a child to see something from someone else’s point of view. To some, closing the eyes means that everything else disappears! The Formal Operational stage involves hypothetico-deductive reasoning and abstract thought, and stretches throughout our adult lives. Some people tend to struggle with this type of thinking and, instead, may demonstrate much more emotional/social intelligence. By the way, which weighs more — a million tons of lead or a million tons of feathers? Did you have to think about that for a moment? Quote of the day: “Childhood has its own way of seeing, thinking, and feeling, and there is nothing more foolish than the attempt to put ours in its place.” (Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1798) The child’s mind is not a miniature model of the adult mind! The esteemed Erik H. Erikson’s theory of “Psychosocial” stages (pp. 291-293 in bound e-text and p.140 in Grison text) of development (8 in all) through the entire Life-Span became our focus of concern today. Erikson postulated that as we move through each stage, a new “CRISIS” emerges that needs to be negotiated successfully. He defined crisis as a “crucial period of increased vulnerability and heightened potential.” (Erik Erikson, Identity: Youth And Crisis, p. 96) Successful resolution of each crisis leads to a stronger Ego (sense of Self) with a growth-oriented vitality that continues to get stronger as we move through the life-cycle. The Infant’s (also called Oral-Sensory stage) crisis involves Trust, and the role of the caregiver (baby needs Secure Attachment with the mother figure) is of primary importance, especially as it relates to touch (Harlow’s cloth mothers – pp. 308-309 in e-text and pp. 126-7 in Grison text). “The charts show that they spend no more than an hour a day on the wire mother. Mostly, every one of the baby monkeys are sleeping on cloth mom. Or cuddling. Or tucking their bodies close against her when they are startled. Or just stroking her. The graphs seem to have invisible writing running through them that says food is sustenance but a good hug is life itself.” (Deborah Blum, Life At Goon Park: Harry Harlow And The Science Of Affection, p. 159) The infant can experience something of the negative side (Mistrust) of the crisis as he learns self-soothing techniques. Protracted periods of inattention, however, can cause the baby neither to trust the world nor himself. The EGO STRENGTH sought after in this stage is HOPE!

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