FIGURE 4.3 Average visual fixation duration. SOURCE: Adapted from Schilling and Clifton (1998).

need for a point of contact to bring inanimate objects into range. For example, Jacqueline (9 months) discovers that she can bring a toy within reach by pulling a blanket (support) on which it is placed. During the weeks that follow, she frequently uses this “schema” (Piaget, 1952:285). Lucienne (12 months), once having witnessed the action of the support, rapidly generalized the schema to sheets, handkerchiefs, table cloths, pillows, boxes, books, and so on. Once the baby understood the notion of the support, this knowledge transferred rapidly to a variety of potential supports. The same learning is true of stick-like things (push schema) and string-like objects (pull schema), as “means for bringing” (Piaget, 1952:295). Each new acquisition brings with it its own realm of generalization.

A series of laboratory studies has reaffirmed and extended Piaget’s original naturalistic observations and provided a fairly detailed description of development of the push/pull schema from 4 to 24 months of age. As noted above, Leslie showed that 7-month-olds are sensitive to the need for point of contact in a pushing scenario. Bates et al. (1980) looked at infants’ ability to reach a toy using various tools. And Brown and Slattery (described in Brown, 1990) looked at children’s ability to choose the correct tool (with adequate length, rigidity, and pushing or pulling head) from an array of available tools. It was not until 24 months of age that children immediately selected the adequate tool, but by 14 months children could do so with some practice. Across the age range of 10–24 months, children first used tools effectively that were physically attached (unbreakable contact) in contrast to tools that could be unattached at the contact point (breakable contact) or when the point of contact needed to be imagined (no contact). Children showed



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