Addicting The Student Vs Educating The Student

If you’ve had hands-on work from a skilled practicioner, be it from an Alexander Technique teacher or a chiropractor or an osteopath or a hooker, you know how delightful it can be.

What distinguishes Alexander Technique from body work is that the primary task of the Alexander teacher is to educate the student on how to use himself more efficiently and elegantly.

The Alexander teacher when operating from within the limits of the discipline does not pretend to cure or fix anything.

In the midst of the delirious experience of giving and receiving hands-on work, it is easy to forget the educative responsibility of the Alexander teacher and to instead lose yourself in the great feelings.

It’s easy to get hooked on regular lessons of Alexander Technique and perhaps not take responsibility for your own use. It’s much easier to have somebody do something to you than to learn to do for yourself.

That’s the concern of veteran Alexander teacher Joe Boland who writes:

After almost forty years as a student (since 1969) and teacher (since 1979) of Alexander’s work it has become my strong belief that the “Alexander Technique” is long overdue for a rigorous review and overhaul if the promise of Alexander’s work is to ever be realized.

Whether this conclusion has merit or not depends, I suppose, on what one considers is the purpose of Alexander’s work.

I’ve come to believe and be guided in my own work by the following: Alexander’s purpose was to devise 1) an effective means for improving his own use and 2) an effective means for communicating this information to others such that within a reasonable amount of time a motivated and reasonably intelligent person could become autonomous in the maintenance of his/her own good use.

I continue to hold the view that Alexander was apparently able to resolve his own “use” issue, but it’s been a long time since I believed that the “traditional” pedagogy came anywhere close to accomplishing the second part of the above-stated “purpose”.

The crux of Alexander’s work and that which distinguished it for its time and place was in my view his application of a methodical process of observation, experimentation, and above all, reasoning to the phenomenon of human psychophysical “use”. This was his essential “technique”, that which led him to the observation that in the absence of the interference of habits of misuse, it would seem that the human organism is predisposed to efficient performance.


About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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