Through the use of tools one is able to make the transition from elementarymental functions to higher mental functions. However, according to Luria(1992), "a child needs to develop to the age of about 1 ½ years oldbefore he can for the first time use external objects as tools, and assess anygiven external object not merely as such, but as an object that can be used toachieve some goal." Using an object as a tool is a child's first steptoward an active rather than mechanical connection between the outside world andthe child. A child's ability to master a particular tool is a sign of highpsychological development. Below are two examples of tool use.
Example 1 -
A child is seated at a table. On the other side of the table is a pieceof candy tied to a string. The child is told that in order to be able to eatthe piece of candy he/she has to stay in their seat to get it. At first thechild tries to reach across the table and grab at it. However, after doing thisa couple of times the child realizes that it's impossible to get it.
The instructor then prompts the child, by asking if there is anything there thatcan help you get it. The child then notices the string, but isn't sure how itwill help. The child puts there hand on the string and the piece of candymoves. The child then gives the string a hard pull and gets the candy. Thetool is this case is the string.
Example 2 -
A child is placed in a classroom with an examiner. On top of thechalkboard is a lollipop. The examiner tells the child that if they can get thelollipop down they can have it. At first the child tries to jump up and reachit. However, it is too far up to reach in this manner. The examiner jumps inand says to the child, "Is there anything in the room that can help you?" The child than gets on top of a desk. However, the desk is too far away fromthe chalkboard. While on top of the desk, the child notices a stool right nearthe chalkboard. The child jumps down from the desk and climbs on top of thestool. However, the lollipop is still out of reach. While on top of the stoolthe child continues to think. At last they exclaim, "I can use this(pointing to a pointer on the chalk tray) to reach it." The child thengets off the stool, grabs the pointer, climbs back onto the stool and knocks thelollipop down. In this case the child had two tools that needed to be used; thestool and also the pointer.
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