ricex508: January 2012 Archives

Ariel Rice
disrupting grace.gifOne topic I found very interesting in the text was located in Chapter 3 discussing Nature and Nurture, which is the debate over how genetic inheritance and environment factors contribute to human development. The reason I found this section interesting is because an old family friend had to give up their adopted daughter with reasons pertaining to the nature and nurture debate. Before the family had received their adopted daughter, she had been sexually abused as a very young child. However, the family was unaware of this at the time and adopted her and raised her with nurture and love for six years. The daughter as she grew older was extremely aggressive, disconnected, and unable to show loving emotions. She soon became dangerous that it destroyed the family and tore them apart. They ended up having to give her up because as the mother says in her book she was "broken" and they were unable to help her anymore. This is a representation of nature overcoming nurture. Even though this family gave their adopted daughter love and care, she was unable to overcome the terrifying environment she had been exposed to when she was young. Because of the traumatic events at such a young age, they shaped the young girl for the rest of her life; even through extensive workings with therapists she was not able to overcome her past upbringing. A question to consider is, is it possible to move past a horrific past environment (as seen with this daughter) and be able to move forward and get on a with a normal and healthy life, or does your past environments stay with you the rest of your life?
This is a link to the book written by the mother of the adopted daughter which explains what she went through and how she had to give up her daughter. http://www.disruptinggrace.com/Disrupting_Grace/Home.html

Ariel Rice
James-Franco-1.jpg The chapter I was given to look over involved the many different aspects of language. The topics discussed were how language came to be, what it involves, how babies learn a language and many others. It also went into discussing thinking and reasoning, like how we accomplish our goals and the inner workings of our mind. But the topics I found most interesting involved teaching human language to nonhuman animals. I had recently watched the movie The Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It involved a very smart chimpanzee that learned to sign, even though this was a fictional movie I became interested in knowing if it is possible to teach chimpanzees or any other apes to sign. This section in this chapter was able to help me understand that it is very difficult to teach any animal to learn our language. When teaching a chimpanzee the human language, researchers realized that chimpanzees aren't able to master syntactic rules, which is how words are combined to create meaning. They were only able to communicate requests of food or other activities but not to combine words into sentences like it was seen in Planet of the Apes. In the movie the chimpanzee was able to communicate short, but meaningful sentences to the main character. However, there are two different species that are able to learn the language even better. One of the species is the Bonobo, which is even more genetically alike to humans. Unlike chimpanzees they learn through observation and can use symbols to comment in interactions rather than just to receive a treat. The other animal is the African gray parrot, as many people know they are able to mimic words and noises that they hear. However, they can go beyond that. They are able to create combinations words that are meaningful and also master syntactic rules of language. However, they learn through repetition rather than interacting in the world. Language is very complex and has evolved over time and is one of the best ways to communicate complex ideas and thoughts to one another.
Check out this video of a gorilla named Koko who uses sign language to communicate with people. She is learning how to sign butterfly in this video! www.youtube.com:watch?v=U64k_fA2Rcc.webloc

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