Videatives Views Issue #200 Hearing the Unheard

Eli, 23 months old, and Matthew, 20 months old, have discovered a small rectangular timer. Carefully notice what Eli does with the timer and list two other objects you think he may liken (assimilate) it to. What physical attributes of the timer do you notice Eli considering as he manipulates and possibly works to classify the object? Do you agree that Eli is using pretend play to speculate about the intended function of the object? Explain why or why not.

Eli holds the timer up prominently to Matthew, Matthew moves to take it, Eli resists but holds it up again and says, "See." Eli holds the timer to his ear (0:22) and then holds the timer up to Matthew’s ear (0:28). Eli may have activated the timer, and it could be making a noise. What do Eli's actions suggest about his "theory of mind", that is his assumptions about the subjective state of another person. Why does Eli place the timer to Matthew's left ear in addition to Matthew's right ear? Next, Eli walks off camera and holds the timer to his teacher’s ear (00:48). The teacher decides to say, “Hello?” She likely wants to support the children’s play by interpreting Eli’s actions. Do you agree with her choice? What if the teacher had instead said, “I don’t feel sick,” or asked, “Do I have a fever?” Might Eli have been encouraged to better define the symbol (i.e., confirm or deny its role as a phone)?

Notice that the brief telephone script is repeated, but not expanded. What specifically would you do to help extend the children’s pretend play?

At time code 1:45, the teacher steps out of the pretend frame and explicitly asks Eli, “Is it a phone?” Do you think this was a good idea? Give examples of what the teacher could do within the pretend play frame to learn more about the child’s knowledge of the telephone and his use of the timer as a pretend symbol.  What advantage might there be for the children in hearing the teacher say, "I hear it; I hear it"?

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