Alexander was concerned about education of the young, because many potentially bad habits could be prevented at an early age. He saw the future of civilisation dependent upon development of the conscious and rational powers of children. His views would be regarded as progressive for his times. He writes in MSI:
In this matter of education I am, admittedly, an iconoclast. I would fain break down the idols of tradition and set up new concepts. In no matters do we see more plainly the harmful effect of the rigid convention than in this matter of teaching. We speak commonly of training the minds of children. It is a happy expression in its origin, and we still retain its proper intention when we apply the word to its uses in horticulture.
The gardener does, indeed, train the young growth. He draws it out to the light and warmth and leads it into the conditions most helpful for its development.
And so, in teaching, the first essential should be to cultivate the uses of the mind and body, and not, as is so often the case, to neglect the instrument of thought and reason by the inculcation of fixed rules which have never been examined.
He was concerned and critical about the present education of children, e.g. in CCC:
Indeed, I am prepared to prove by demonstration that nine out of ten of the children now being submitted to tests are imperfectly co-ordinated, and that a great number are beset with very serious psycho-physical defects.
Among other issues regarding the upbringing of children he wrote on:
- the importance of parents and others providing a good example, as many children learn by precept and imitation.
- the importance of nutrition;
- the importance of teaching children about adapting to furniture rather than looking for ‘correct’ school furniture;
- and against teaching children deep breathing.
The first reporting of Alexander teaching children appears in 1906, where he writes about some case histories, which includes the stories of teaching two brothers.
His longest statement on the education of children is the chapter ‘VII. Race culture and the training of the children’ in MSI.
In 1924 Alexander set up the Little School with Irene Tasker as teacher and headmistress, and Alexander would visit the school and worked with the children. See The Little School.
He referred to the school and the education of children in a lecture to the Child-Study Society in 1925.
On the difference between education and re-education in learning and applying the Alexander Technique, see Re-education.