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Further development of landmark operations

We described the structure and genetic roots of the child’s landmark operations. However, it would be wrong to think that mediation with the help of well-known external signs is an eternal form of higher mental functions; attentive genetic analysis convinces us just the opposite and makes us think that this form of behavior is only a well-known stage in the history of mental development, growing out of primitive systems and suggesting a transition to further more complex psychological formations on further stages.

The observations on the development of mediated memorization, which we cited above, already indicate an extremely peculiar fact: if at first mediated operations proceeded exclusively with external signs, then at later stages of development external mediation ceases to be the only operation by which higher psychological mechanisms decide them tasks. Experience shows that not only the use of signs is changing here, but the very structure of the operation is also changing drastically. In the most essential we can express this change, if we say that from the externally mediated it becomes internally mediated. This is expressed in the fact that the child begins to memorize the material offered to him in the manner described by us above, but only does not resort to using external signs, which from this minute become unnecessary to him.

The whole operation of mediated memorization now proceeds as a purely internal process, in its appearance it cannot be said that it differs in any way from the original form of direct memorization. If judged only by external data, it may seem that the child simply began to memorize more, better, somehow improved and developed his memory and, most importantly, returned to the method of direct memorization from which our experiment pushed him. But the return back is only apparent: development, as is often the case, moves here not in a circle, but in a spiral, returning to the point passed on a higher basis.

We call this withdrawal of operations inside, this interiorization of higher mental functions, associated with new changes in their structure, the process of rotation, having in mind mainly the following: the fact that higher mental functions are built initially as external forms of behavior and rely on an external sign, nor to what extent it is not accidental, but, on the contrary, determined by the very psychological nature of the higher function, which, as we said above, does not arise as a direct continuation of elementary processes, but is a social way of behavior, applied to oneself.

The transfer of social modes of behavior into the system of individual forms of adaptation is not at all a purely mechanical transfer; it is not performed automatically, but is associated with a change in the structure and function of the whole operation and constitutes a special stage in the development of higher forms of behavior. Transferred into the sphere of individual behavior, complex forms of cooperation begin to function according to the laws of that primitive whole, the organic part of which they now constitute. Between the position that higher mental functions (the inseparable part of which is the use of signs) arise in the process of cooperation and social interaction, and the position that these functions develop from primitive roots on the basis of lower, or elementary, functions, that is, between the Sociogenesis of higher functions and their natural history, there is a genetic rather than a logical contradiction. The transition from a collective form of behavior to an individual initially reduces the level of the whole operation, since it is included in the system of primitive functions, assuming qualities common to all functions of this level. Social behaviors are more complex, and their development leads the child ahead; becoming individual, they decrease and begin to function according to simpler laws. For example, egocentric speech as such is lower in structure than ordinary speech, but as a stage in the development of thinking it is higher than the social speech of a child of the same age, so Piaget may consider it as a predecessor of socialized speech, and not as a form derivative of it.

Thus, we conclude that each higher mental function inevitably bears the nature of an external activity first. Initially, the sign is, as a rule, an external auxiliary stimulus, an external means of autostimulation. This is due to two reasons: firstly, the roots of such an operation lie in collective forms of behavior, which always belong to the sphere of external activity, and, secondly, this is due to the primitive laws of the individual sphere of behavior that are not yet separated from external activity , are not separated from direct perception and external action, for example, practical thinking of a child.

The fact of “internalization” of symbolic operations was experimentally traced in two situations: in mass experiments with children of different ages and in individual experiments - by means of long-term experimentation with one child. In this work, Leontiev for this purpose in our laboratory carried out an experiment with direct and indirect memorization of a large number of children, starting from 7 years old and ending with adolescents. The change in the number of elements filled in both cases is two lines, revealing the dynamics of symbolic operations during the entire process of child development. The figure shows the line of development of direct and indirect memorization at different ages.

A number of moments immediately catches the eye: both lines are not random, but reveal a known pattern. It is perfectly clear that the line of direct memorization is located below the line of memorization of the mediated, both of them exhibit a certain tendency of growth. However, the growth is uneven in individual segments of child development: if up to 10-11 years the external-mediated memorization grows especially sharply, from which the lower line noticeably lags behind, then it is during this period that the fracture occurs, and in the senior school age the external growth of the memory shows a particular dynamic. By pace, it surpasses the line of development of foreign operations.

An analysis of this scheme, which we called conditionally a parallelogram of development and which remains stable in all experiments, shows that it is due to the forms that play a primary role in the development of higher mental processes in a child. If for the first stage of development it was characteristic that the child is able to mediate his memory only by resorting to well-known external methods (hence the sharp growth of the upper line), leaving memory not relying on external signs in substantial, immediate, almost mechanical retention in memory, then at the second stage of development, a sharp jump occurs: external sign operations generally reach the limit, but now the child begins to rebuild the internal memorization process that does not rely on external signs; the natural process is mediated, the child begins to apply the well-known internal techniques - and a sharp rise in the lower curve indicates a fracture that has occurred.

In the development of internal mediated operations, the phase of the use of external signs plays a crucial role.
The child moves to internal sign processes because he has passed the phase when these processes were outside. We are convinced of this by a series of individual experiments: measuring the coefficient of natural memorization in a child, for some time we conduct experiments with him with external-mediated memorization, and then again we check operations that are not based on the use of external signs. The results show that even in an experiment with a mentally retarded child, there is first a significant increase in external-mediated, and then direct memorization, which, after an intermediate series of experiments, gives a 2-3 times better effect, transferring, as the analysis shows, the techniques of external sign surgery to internal processes .

In the described operations, we are present in a process of two kinds: on the one hand, the natural process undergoes a profound reorganization, turning into a workaround, mediated act, on the other, and the sign operation itself changes, ceasing to be external and transformed into the most complex internal psychological systems. The double change and is symbolized in our scheme by a fracture of both curves, coinciding at one point and indicating the internal dependence of these processes. We are present here during the process of the greatest psychological importance: what was an external operation with a sign, a well-known cultural method of mastering ourselves from the outside, turns into a new intrapsychological layer, gives rise to a new psychological system, incomparably higher in composition and cultural-psychological in its genesis.

The process of rotation of cultural forms of behavior, on which we have just stopped, is associated with profound changes in the activity of the most important mental functions, with a radical restructuring of mental activity on the basis of symbolic operations. On the one hand, natural mental processes, as we see them in animals, cease to exist in their pure form, including in the system of behavior rebuilt on a culturally-psychological basis into a new whole. This new whole necessarily includes the former elementary functions, which, however, continue to exist in them as they are, acting in accordance with the new laws that are characteristic of the whole system that has arisen.

On the other hand, the operation of using an external sign is drastically rebuilt. Being a crucial, important operation in a young child, it is replaced here by substantially other forms; the internally mediated process begins to use completely new connections and new techniques, unlike those that were characteristic of the external sign operation. The process is experiencing changes similar to those observed during the transition of the child from external speech to internal. As a result of the process of rotation of cultural and psychological operations, we get a new structure, a new function of the previously used techniques and an entirely new composition of complex mental processes. It would be extremely primitive to think that the further restructuring of higher mental processes under the influence of the use of a sign occurs on the basis of transferring the entire finished sign operation inside; it would be just as wrong to assume that in the developed system of higher mental processes there is a simple building-up of the highest floor over the lower and simultaneous existence of two relatively independent forms of behavior - natural and mediated. In fact, as a result of the rotation of the cultural operation, we get a qualitatively new interweaving of systems that sharply distinguish the psychology of man from the elementary functions of the behavior of the animal. These most complex textures are still unexplored, and we can now point out only a few key points characteristic of them.

When rotating, that is, when transferring the function inward, a complex restructuring of its entire structure occurs. The essential points of restructuring are, as the experiment shows, the following: 1) replacement of functions; 2) changes in natural functions (elementary processes that form the basis for a higher function and form part of it); 3) the emergence of new psychological functional systems (or system functions), which take on the role in the general structure of behavior, which is carried out before by separate functions.

We could briefly explain these three points, internally connected with each other, on the changes that occur during rotation in higher memory functions. Even in the simplest forms of mediated memorization, the fact that a function has been replaced appears with complete clarity. A. Binet, not in vain, called the mnemonics of memorizing a series of numbers a model of numerical memory. The experiment shows that in such memorization the decisive factor is not the power of memory or the level of its development, but the activity of combining, building structures, disposition of relationships, thinking in a broad sense, and other processes that replace memory and determine the structure of this activity. When an activity moves inward, the very replacement of functions leads to memory verbalization and, therefore, to memorization with the help of concepts. Due to the replacement of the function, the elementary memorization process shifts from the place it originally occupied, but is not yet separated from the new operation, but uses its central position in the entire psychological structure and takes a new position in relation to the entire new system of jointly operating functions. Having entered this new system, it begins to function in accordance with the laws of the whole, of which it is now a part.

As a result of all the changes, the new memory function (which has now become an internal mediated process) only by its name turns out to be similar to the elementary memorization process; in its own inner essence, this is a new, specific entity with its own laws.
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