Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pre-Verbal Learning

Liz posted this picture yesterday of the competition between the fire departments.  For those of you who don't live in small towns, it's kind of like football or a tug-of-war.  The barrel hangs high on a line between two poles, and the teams squirt water in an effort to send the barrel sliding all the way to the other team's pole.

Whenever I see these contests, I begin to ponder again how kids learn before they are verbal.   You see, many years ago, we attended a celebration in the twin cities of Tiffany and Shopiere.  One of the boys (I think it was Andrew) was too little to talk.  We petted goats.  We watched the parade.  We watched the firemen's contests.  Nice day.  Nothing notable.

A couple of years later, the munchkin-in-question was explaining to me how that contest worked, how the water from the hoses moved the barrel along the rope.  He had questions.  But he also had some pretty clear memories and was able to verbalize what had happened that day. 

I think in words.  I communicate with words.  I attach words to images and sounds and smells and feelings.  It still boggles my mind to consider how those memories (a half-lifetime past for Andrew) were stored, without words, without explanations, but just as images, and how they poured out in words once the words were accessible.

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