The genius of toddlers. Part 2


A toddler demonstrates the difference between end-gaining and intent:

One of Alexander's most perceptive discoveries is that our physical movement and our thought processes are inseparable. Even though he was able to see how the way he stood; the way he 'grasped' the ground with his toes and took in big gasps of air when he performed was the cause of his voice loss he was unable to simply correct his postural problems by doing a different thing. He saw that when he was focussed on the end result at the expense of considering the process he tightened unnecessarily. He labelled this habit 'end-gaining' and noticed that it is a more or less universal feature of human activity.

He worked out that before he could perform an action in a new way he had to stop doing it the old way. He learned to stop himself before he performed an action and give himself the chance to do, or not do the action, or to do something else. In this way he found that he could open up the possibility of moving in a way that didn't disrupt the unity of head and spine.

This 19 month old toddler has a crystal clear intention to get to the top of the climbing wall. She is also supremely confident and fearless. When she hits a problem, you can see that she is prepared to go back a step to reconsider her options you can also see that at this moment her back remains undisturbed. At all times she is calm and you can see her back is not pulled out of shape by the reaches of her arms and that the deep bending of her legs supports the strong movement of her back. So even though she has a very definite end in mind she is not end gaining and she carries out her intention with poise and freedom.


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