How lucky I am. If I had been born with a perfect back, had an idyllic childhood, been successful in everything I did and always had a clear sight of where I was going and what I wanted, I would have learned very little of any value. It has always been the difficulties that I encounter and the mistakes that I make that have opened up new layers of consciousness and knowledge for me.
Knowledge these days is only acceptable if it is backed up by extensive research and testing, clinical trials, peer reviews etc. etc. I am offering you very little to none of this. I am offering you the result of over twenty years’ worth of common sense and experience. I have worked closely with many small children during this time and they have taught me a great deal.
I want to explore with you some of the experiences I have had – and continue to have - that have led me to ask questions about some of the principles, approaches, facts and procedures that we consider to be true and valid. Let us consider the possibility together that sometimes the rules are wrong.
Sometimes we see things as we have been told to see them rather than seeing what is clearly happening before our eyes. Although these questions have mostly arisen from my work with children, many of the issues I want us to consider are also totally relevant to us as adults.
Such questions include:
The Alexander Technique 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.
The Technique is taught by verbal instruction and by gentle indications from the hands of the Alexander teacher. Touch of the pupil by the teacher is the clearest way to convey the principles of the Technique and is essential to the teaching. Alexander teachers are trained to use their hands in a thoughtful and safe way and are regulated by a professional body and a clear code of conduct.
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.
Learning how to allow the self to stay in balance and how to re-find that balance when it is lost is the most amazing and unusual skill to possess. It should be taught to every child in every school. It is far more important than any other skill because if you have this ability in place it makes learning everything else much easier.
If you are functioning well it is axiomatic that you can then perform well at whatever you are doing. You may not become a genius or champion runner for example, but you will be much more likely to feel good about yourself and your achievements while accepting happily that you can’t be the best at everything.
We need to provide the optimum conditions for our children to feel safe, to find balance and to feel nurtured. If we understand how the self comes into balance when the head, neck, back relationship is flowing correctly we can create conditions conducive to this flow. In this balanced state the child is free from stress and able to function efficiently.
At Educare we teach children a unique, child-centred way to apply the principles of the AlexanderTechnique to the school day. They are also encouraged to use the skills that we teach them in all other areas of their lives.
‘When I think about the Alexander Technique I think about quiet time, movement circle and lazy -8’s and about relaxed learning’.
Ellie Aged 10 years
An ideal alternative to school assembly
‘Thinking and learning are not all in our head. On the contrary, the body plays an integral part in all our intellectual processes from our earliest moments right through to old age. It is our body’s senses that feed the brain environmental information with which to form an understanding of the world and from which to draw when creating new possibilities. And it is our movements that express knowledge and facilitate greater cognitive function as they increase in complexity. This is the conclusion which neuroscientific research supports in ever richer detail.’
Carla Hannaford, Ph.D
Each day at Educare begins with Movement Circle. Everyone practices a unique, structured mixture of movements drawn from many sources.Then we are ready to play and learn.
An opportunity for relaxation and focus.
‘I probably like best about Educare, the space and the freedom. You get a lot of space for yourself. When I say freedom, well you can say what you want to the teachers and you can put your impact in there. I think you have freedom to do stuff more than I think is done in other schools. We do Quiet Time here. That gives you a lot of space for yourself. That is something that is really nice and powerful.’
Hannah Oxford aged 10
After lunch each day everyone lies down. We listen to beautiful music and practice Hook-ups, Alexander Technique and meditation. When I am on site I can do some Alexander hands-on work and the older children can help me.
Many Alexander Teachers world-wide have now taken the Developing Self Education Training Course. They can teach some of the procedures that are in place at Educare Small School including Educare Movement Circle and Educare Quiet Time.
Use the link below to find a teacher in your area or contact us and we will try to put you in touch with someone.
‘I find it really fun and calming and it’s nice to have a new experience, like slowing down, being soft and learning about not pressing with my finger tips (as quiet time helper)’.
Sophia aged 9 years