The process is what makes the whole more than the parts

By Jay Hiller, February 1, 2023

Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

I was watching a physical therapist, Athena Oden, lecture today on child development. It was pretty good, a main point being that developmentally we’re made up of systems that are all interrelated. She had this analogy that very few people would enjoy a bowl of milk with salt, sugar, an ice cube and a raw egg in it. After those ingredients are churned into ice cream, most people would enjoy them. The process, she said, is what makes the whole more than the parts, in terms of physical development and readiness to learn.

This resonated with me a lot, not just in my work which I think of as being very much process based, but for life in general. All the stuff that happens to us, all the work that we do, the relationships that we have, our experiences are mixed together to make us the people that we are. You can think of them separately, of course. It makes sense to me though that everything is processed together–the parakeets flying over the trees when my dad clapped his hands, my mom’s black coat, the Gregory Gym pool, my sister’s eyes, my husband’s bike, my children’s first words and steps.

Athena Oden’s book, by the way, is Ready Bodies, Learning Minds. It looks good, especially if there’s anyone out there working with children who have disabilities.

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