The AT teaches us how to be present, how to focus, how to be easy in our bodies and minds, how to find good posture and how to balance movement and stillness. Alexander in Education helps children to learn more happily and effectively. It helps classroom teachers to more effectively manage themselves in the classroom and beyond. This helps to reduce, manage and even eliminate stressful situations.
Alexander in Primary Education has been developed over many years of work with children and classroom teachers and is exemplified by the system used at Educare Small School. It is effective because it is completely in accord with how we should naturally function in daily life and with how we learn.
Here you will find more information about the importance of the Alexander Technique in Primary Education:
The Alexander Technique is generally taught to adults as a remedial discipline to fix things that have gone wrong. For example, to deal with pain caused by poor posture. The first ever attempt to use the principles of the AT in a primary school – or any school at all - occurred at F M Alexander’s practice in Ashley Place, London in 1924. One of his Alexander Technique teachers, Irene Tasker, had trained with Dr. Maria Montessori in Rome in 1913. She provided the inspirational spark to get the school started and, at first, she ran the school at Ashley Place. The school followed the Montessori Method and also taught the children the principles of the Alexander Technique. Evidently the two worked well together, probably because both systems focus on the means rather than the end.
Alexander himself specifically said that he saw education work with young children as the way forward for the Technique. You can download a power point presentation about the Little School from the resources page on this web site. There are also two books now available that are collections of the children's work: The Alexander Times was the journal created and produced by the pupils of the Little School.
EDUCARE SMALL SCHOOL
After the Little School there were several other educational projects worldwide but no other long-term Alexander projects in primary schools until 1997 and the opening of Educare Small School in Kingston Upon Thames, UK. Now it was possible to really focus on ways to integrate the Alexander Technique into the school day.
Sue Merry began this work in a state primary school in 1994 – Latchmere Infants. Her aim was to make Alexander work accessible to the children and their teachers, almost without them realising. The classes were over-crowded and the teachers under a great deal of pressure. For Alexander work to be effective it would have to be, cheap and easy to implement – e.g. no expensive equipment or major, disruptions to the school environment. Also, it would need to integrate easily into the school day so that teachers could implement any changes with very little effort and no stress.
This front-line experience allowed Sue to begin to develop a unique and effective way to integrate Alexander into any school environment. Over 20 years of working at Educare Small School has given Sue and the head teacher Liz Steinthal the opportunity to employ a great deal of innovation and creativity in continually developing Alexander teaching for both the children and the adults at Educare.
A new generation of Alexander Teachers from many different countries, are now training in these methods and are stepping up and ready to expand this very specialised work, taking it out into the world.
This is work in progress so please add any information you may have.
An initial inset training of a minimum of two hours (ideally a whole day) consisting of an introductory Alexander Technique workshop for school teaching staff.
The aim of this training is to give participants some hands-on experience of Alexander work and to include some helpful ideas and techniques that can be used immediately and which will be of benefit to them and to the children.
With the school’s permission the Alexander Teacher will have already assessed the school environment and taken some photographs. They will then present their findings as part of the inset training and give suggestions as to how any desirable changes might be implemented. The aim being to create, as much as possible, an environment that supports the Alexander work and thus enables both children and adults to be as free from stress and back pain as possible and to be poised, centred and focused.
The Alexander Teacher will both explain and demonstrate how they intend to initially proceed to introduce the Alexander Technique into the whole school
This might be done one class at a time. The AT teacher will use various methods to establish a common language and understanding of the basic principles of the Alexander Technique. The main purpose of this first lesson is to establish a context with the children to enable further teaching. This lesson could take place in the classroom or make use of the usual PE slot and venue.
The Alexander Teacher now develops their work with the children, again working with one class at a time. This lesson will ideally occupy the usual PE slot and will mostly involve playing games and role-playing in order to experience the principles of the Alexander Technique in action.
The Alexander Teacher gives a presentation to school staff where they are taken through all the relevant movements and procedures. Handouts and videos may be used as reminders. EMC and EQT are then introduced to the children one class at a time if possible. The school is encouraged to use EMC and EQT every day. Perhaps EMC could become a part of, or replacement for, morning assembly?
This is to enable teaching staff to discuss the work that the Alexander Teacher and they have done so far. This is an opportunity for the teaching staff to speak freely and to present the Alexander Teacher with their experiences. It is a good time to iron out any teething problems and to make a plan for the way forward.
Please contact us with your questions.