Forum is now read-only.

'No direction' teaching

edited November 2009 in Teaching
I have noticed on the ITM Alexander Technique Teacher Training Course website (which is a four year- 1 weekend per month course) they dont teach directions..

I dont know if this means silent lessons but I was wondering what people make of that choice.

I have mix feelings on the matter.


  • I'm sure this doesn't mean silent lessons. I think it means they - the ITM teachers - believe that giving directions doesn't necessarily result in good use, although good use is definitely preceded by giving directions. I suppose they must have decided that they can more effectively teach people better use than how to give directions in order to produce it.

    I read the link you provided with interest. I wish it had gone into more detail of how they do what they say they do.

    I'm intrigued at their training schedule. Why one weekend a month for four years, I wonder? Why not two weekends a month for two years; or every weekend for a year? I note the author mentions FM Alexander's brother, AR Alexander, in the article. His - AR's - 'training' apparently consisted of no more than half a dozen personal sessions from FM!

  • edited November 2009
    Interesting reading ineed, particularly your final paragraph. The 1600 hr STAT qualification is spread over three years as this is considered to be the length of time that it takes to train a student to work on themselves in order to become a teacher. ITM teachers do indeed train over one weekend a month for four years. When a pupil comes to book a lesson with a teacher, the chances are that they will not know the difference between these two qualifications.

    I agree with Nicholas, I have heard that ITM teachers consider that the giving of directions to be unnecessary. I personally would argue otherwise, and FM stated quite clearly in his books that the giving of directions was imperative to the work and in fact stated that a pupil should repeat these directions whilst being worked upon. Of course a teacher can give a lesson in silence, but when doing so it is even more important that the pupil continue to give their directions.
  • yeah,
    I do think the idea of a weekend course is a good one though. It would make it possible for alot people to keep their day jobs/original careers whilst doing the course. There is a PAAT one in Birmingham which is 4 years - every Thursday & Friday nights 6-9pm and saturday 9am-1pm. This would suit me well as Im quite interested in doing a teacher traing course...but i wouldnt live in Birmingham for it (or anything, hee)!
    I would imagine half the fun of doing the course is continuously getting alexander treatment at the same time to get really fit/happy, like with the STAT one which is every morning most Mon-Thurs.

    Ideally for me there would be a STAT course that was fri, sat, sun, mon mornings for 3 years. I could easily keep my original career during the week. (is there one?). Mon-thurs is just impossible.

    Plus there is the expense ITM charge £220 per month = £11,000 ovwer the 4 years, STAT and PAAT are around £10,000.
    Far too expensive for my liking (esp. as its not garanteed a full-time job, although i'd be doing mainly for interest). Im doing a university now (not Alexander Tech related) which costs £1200 per year. Alex Tech is almost triple that.
    Mind you, acupuncture costs £15,000 for three years every weekend.

    Going back to directions, Ive got mixed feelings about it because I have had lessons where in the early days it became a bit robotic with what i was told to think, which probably threw me a bit off the chase for awhile if you know what i mean, which i think ITM is saying they are trying too avoid. I do really like the 'think of a part of the body which spreads' one. This helped me sense which area/s were tightening too much when i thought of it and helped me figure out why.
    At the end of the day, its what helps people get to the root psychological cause of their troubles which will work. I knew a teacher who worked with mentally disabled kids, who obviously worked in silence, as they wouldnt understand. She said the technique worked without the vocal element.
  • Firstly, it is up to each student to decide upon which training course they wish to follow and which centre to train at. As for "continuously getting alexander treatment at the same time to get really fit/happy", I would personally be very careful when choosing words such as "treatment", as in my opinion the Alexander Technique is not a "treatment" but rather a re-education, and you will find that FM Alexander thought the same. The STAT training course is run along the lines it is in order for students to gain continuous practical experience of working on themselves.

    You might like to contact STAT to mention how how you would like the training course to be run from your perspective to meet your own requirements, however many students throughout the world make huge sacrifices to undertake the three year training course that they do, and these decisions are by no means taken lightly and over a long period of time. The Alexander Technique training course cannot be compared to a university course in terms of the teaching or content, and as for the financial cost of the training course, this is for every student to consider for themselves. Certainly the financial question is a question many prospective and studying students have, however from my own experience the teaching and experience far surpasses even the question of money. When all is said and done, I think it boils down to a question of one's priorities. It is, after all, a vocational training course.

    In respect of the giving of directions, I think it largely depends on the teacher/pupil relationship and how the teacher teaches. In my experience I am always encouraged to give the directions of the neck to be free, the head to go forward and up so as the allow the back to lengthen and widen, however on top of this I have worked with teachers who offer other ways of thinking about directions.
  • Training in any skill is a curious business. In every profession, there are some highly competent operators, many average ones, and a few hopeless cases. We know that from our interactions with specialists in various fields. All, of course, will have passed through much the same learning process. To ensure minimum standards, in any profession, it's obviously important to have a uniform certification procedure. It's also important that that procedure is commonly perceived to be 'adequate'. What is adequate for a brain surgeon is not going to be same for a mechanic or a reflexologist. I would imagine the public impression of what is required in order to train to become a teacher of the Alexander Technique would be considerably less exigent than the current. STAT approved regimen.

    I'm not sure I would disagree with that perception. My understanding of why the three year, 1600 hour approach evolved was because Alexander wanted his training to have a certain gravitas, to put it on a par with other professions. Nevertheless, I think it is a great shame that training to teach the Technique has become so fragmented, with more and more 'senior teachers' taking it upon themselves to decide alternative learning structures, for which they then issue their own certification. What I would far rather see would be one commonly agreed format that took into account the realities of training, both from the feasibility, in terms of cost and time, of student participation, and the time required for the absorption of the necessary information and skill. I think a hybrid model, somewhere between the two extreme examples set by STAT and the ITM, would fit the bill best; although I also think an apprentice element, where students worked alongside established teachers, would be a welcome addition.

    Learning to direct is vastly important. If this is left out, half of what Alexander taught would be lost. The question is, how can it be done, in such a way that it doesn't have the counter productive effect that has stopped the ITM from teaching the subject at all? Far too little has been written about the possible ways we as individuals can direct; and far too much emphasis has been placed on learning to direct only in the regimented way Alexander appeared to suggest. Reading between the lines of his four books, however, it is clear that he believed the formal use of words or phrases, expressing a desire, such as to 'let the neck be free', must become superseded by other, non verbal forms of thought, expressing the same wish, for the process to be of any practical value. Close investigation reveals this to be more or less the same procedure we run through - often, in fractions of a second - for just about every act we perform in daily life, the major difference being that these habitual thoughts tend to concern the ‘ends’ we have in mind rather than what ‘means‘ we employ to gain them.
Sign In or Register to comment.