Before learning to teach, the aspiring Alexander teacher must first learn to put the principles of the Technique into practice for themselves in their own lives, and this is where the Alexander Technique teacher training course begins.
Throughout our lives we learn many attitudes associated with trying harder and getting things done more quickly, so we tend to use a lot more tension than is necessary. During the three-year training course, we examine what those attitudes are, perhaps where they came from, and whether we really need them.
Learning is a different experience for each student and takes time, care and attention. The Technique is taught and learned by individuals and the teaching approach is therefore adapted to the individual. This process is a creative one in which students learn from their mistakes, as well as their successes; we are discovering limits as well as going beyond them. Learning the Technique is a process of experimentation. Making mistakes can provide us with more information about our own use and functioning than ‘getting things right’.
Students are encouraged and expected to participate actively: the teacher and the student are engaged together in making discoveries. We also understand that change may make us feel vulnerable and we provide a secure and friendly environment for learning the Technique.
We like to approach things with an attitude of curiosity, play and exploration.
The Alexander Technique Studio Graz is in the tradition of the original teacher training course run by F. M. Alexander and continued by Walter Carrington and others. We were both trained by Karen Wentworth who trained with Walter and Dilys Carrington. The Carringtons developed their teacher training skills over six decades and this heritage continues to thrive and evolve at ATS, where the course empowers trainees to use the Technique to support themselves and their pupils in doing the things they love.
Our thoughts here describe the role of lectures in Alexander Technique training.
Lectures, or talks, take place for half an hour every day. Lectures form an important contribution to the training of teachers in the Alexander Technique. Although not ‘practical’ in the psychophysical sense lectures impart information which rarely can be given during the practical work. Lectures fulfill a variety of purposes.
Lectures cover Alexander’s books, anatomy and physiology, and other relevant subjects. One aim is to introduce students to the history and development of the Alexander Technique. Alexander’s books provide our common origin: they set out the his experiences and vision of the Technique, and thus provide useful guidelines for teaching and learning the Technique.
In addition, each lecturer shares his or her own teaching experience, providing case histories and specific examples, and so familiarises students with real life teaching situations. Lectures thus acquaint students with the application of the principles of the Technique from the perspective of different teachers.
Different teachers talking about the Technique demonstrates the constructive ways of thinking and talking about use and functioning available to us. It provides the vocabulary suitable for our work – a language which reflects how we learn.
As in all Alexander Technique teaching the purpose of lectures is not to provide students with ‘answers’ or to tell students how to teach, but to show the methodology of rational means-whereby applied to the process of teaching and learning. The aim is to suggest guidelines as to the direction of the student’s own development and process. These are guides: neither Alexander nor any other teacher can tell students specifically what to do. But we can say something concrete about what we want to prevent.
Anatomy and physiology
Another aim is to understand and use anatomy to improve one’s own use and as a learning aid. A traditional study of anatomy and physiology can be very misleading for students of the Alexander Technique as it may encourage them to believe that the Technique is about mechanics and therefore only a matter of “right” positions. The focus of the Technique is on our way of reacting. However, anatomy and physiology do provide information about the functioning of the “self” (the self being our instrument of reaction and action.)
At the Alexander Technique Studio we are therefore concerned with functional anatomy and physiology as they relate to perception, interpretation, and movement – these being the prime agents involved in reaction and action.
Traditionally, the study of human anatomy and physiology is too preoccupied with specifics for our purpose. The study of the function of individual parts and the compartmentalization of anatomy into several disciplines tends towards a fragmented understanding of the living, whole being.
The purpose of our teaching of anatomy and physiology is to show how the psycho-physical organism is connected, and how it works as an integrated whole: i.e. is an indivisible unity.