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Views and counterviews

What makes a good Alexander Technique teacher?

Alexander and Evolution

The AT does not deal in certainties or perhaps it would be better to say it deals in competing certainties. We have different teaching lineages, different training schools, and different teachers and, as a consequence different views about the AT and how to teach it most effectively. Few admit publicly to the uncertainties that underlie the work we do and how we go about it. The vehemence with which some teachers proclaim themselves tends to represent their personal conviction rather than the consensus among their peers.

There is nothing wrong with presenting a calm and assured face to our pupils. I would not be happy with a dithering or doubtful dentist. But much as we rely on Alexander's writings and the traditions handed on and developed by his successors, we all have to accept that his is not the last word. Our views should be rooted in the evolving understandings of science rather fixed dogmas. We freely accept the debt we owe to Alexander but we have a responsibility to develop and deepen his insights, correct his errors, and ensure that his work survives as a living and changing entity. That means we have to argue for our views as well as disagree among ourselves.

This page is intended to provide an opportunity for argument. It need not be cordial. Disagreement about really important things rarely is.

I am opening the discussion with a contentious question I was asked some time ago: "What makes a good Alexander teacher?" You can get to the paper by clicking here or in the sidebar.

I have recently been looking at Alexander's views on evolution and how they led him into some of his highly offensive racist remarks. In his thinking about evolution, Alexander seems to have relied on the the discredited views of Herbert Spencer, a highly popular Victorian philosopher and writer whose reputation collapsed at the end of the 19th century. It was he, not Darwin, who coined the phrase "survival of the fittest" and he is still in vogue among sections of the libertarian right in American politics. My paper on Alexander and evolution is (here).

If you wish to comment, I am happy to post what you say on the website in your own name or under whatever disguise you wish.