Quick Roundup 221

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Efficacy in Early Cognitive Development

Mike N observes his grandchildren and makes a very thought-provoking observation:

[B]abies often jabbered a lot making incoherent sounds for no apparent reason. I know for example, that they are not trying to communicate anything to me, nor are they intentionally trying to exercise their vocal cords and tongue and lip movements in order to develop their speaking skills. But is there an unapparent reason? I think so and I think it is the same for emptying out a toy box as for jabbering. They do it simply because they can, then because they can, they want to, and further, it is this desire that motivates the action. The process is reciprocal. The act of doing reinforces his implicit knowledge that "he can" which triggers the desire "to do" and so on. It's all about cognitive efficacy, about gaining some modicum of control over his world, though only on the perceptual level.
This reminds me of a conclusion I once reached when introspecting about the issues of shyness and introversion, but Mike's conclusion here is more generally applicable and is stated positively, and is therefore much more useful than what I came up with.

It is interesting to contemplate the importance of encouraging a child's first attempts to gain mastery of the world around him and, conversely, whether even some relatively benign events that frustrate such attempts might shape the development of a child's personality in fundamental ways. (HT: Myrhaf)

A Perfect Wedding

I had the pleasure of meeting Greg Perkins and his lovely bride, Tammy, at OCON just days after they married. I enjoyed their company and think they make a wonderful couple. Stop by Noodlefood for pictures!

A Hair-Raising Example of Jim Crow

In reply to a comment yesterday, I recounted the following shameful episode from during the struggle against Jim Crow that I learned about during some recent reading. It is worth remembering for many reasons.
... In the spring of 1956, the Southern states launched a coordinated legal offensive, planned with care and stealth, to cripple the association. They prohibited state employees from advocating integration, forcing black teachers -- one of the mainstays of the NAACP -- to resign from the NAACP or face dismissal. In South Carolina, twenty-four teachers at Elloree Training School in Orangeburg County quit their jobs rather than renounce their membership. ... Such instances of defiance, however, were comparatively rare. Teachers resigned from the NAACP in droves, often dropping out of all conspicuous civil rights activity.

Few NAACP members, however, could breathe easy. Resurrecting long-forgotten and obscure laws, state prosecutors hauled the NAACP into court for neglecting to file its membership lists with the state authorities. The association found itself between the devil and the deep blue sea. If they complied with the law and handed over the lists, as the NAACP in Louisiana chose to do, they lost most of their members -- for the Citizens Councils immediately published the lists, inviting whites to fire, boycott, and intimidate those whose names appeared. ... Yet refusal to hand over the membership lists, the line taken by the NAACP in Alabama, proved more costly. Ruling against the NAACP to be in contempt of court, state judge Walter B. Jones enjoined it from operating anywhere in Alabama. His ban stood for eight years. (Better Day Coming: Blacks and Equality 1890-2000, by Adam Fairclough, pp. 223-224)
On top of greatly slowing the progress of black Americans, such measures also, no doubt, have left a legacy of distrust for many of the very institutions (especially governmental) that are supposed to protect
individual rights.

-- CAV


z said...

Thanks for the example. Glad I'm too young to have first hand experiences of that. Coincidently, I just watched the Pursuit of Happyness, which was the latest in my Blockbuster queue to show up in my mailbox yesterday. The main character, Chris Gardner, acknowledged we had the right to the "pursuit" of happiness, emphasis on pursuit. And that is what he did in the movie.

Gus Van Horn said...

Bloody good movie, that one! I watched it myself some time ago.