F. M. Alexander trained at least three teachers through apprenticeship before starting the three-year structure for a training course in 1931. The three-year model has been adopted by many Alexander Teachers’ societies.
A. R. Alexander, Ethel Webb, Irene Tasker were all trained by F. M. Alexander on the apprenticeship model. (In Melbourne, around 1904, Miss Lilian Twycross advertised herself as being ‘a certified pupil of Mr F. M. Alexander’ and may therefore also have taught his technique.) There are no known descriptions of how this training was carried out.
Teacher training course history
The first teacher training course started in Feburary 1931. The trainees who joined in the first course were:
1931: Marjorie Barstow, Margaret Goldie, Catherine Merrick (the Countess Wielopolska), George Trevelyan, Gurney MacInnes, Jean MacInnes, Lulie Westfeldt, Erika Schumann (Whittaker), Irene Stewart.
The training course continued until 1940 when Alexander went to the US. Here he started a small training course which was continued by A. R. Alexander when F. M. returned to London in 1944.
Upon his return to London he restarted the training course and it continued until his death in 1955. After his death four of his assistant teachers continued the training course, first called The Use of the Self Ltd., and in 1960 Walter Carrington took over the training course and continued it as The Constructive Teaching Centre Ltd. Marjory and Wilfred Barlow, who had run a training course briefly 1950-52, started a training course. And in 1956 Patrick Macdonald started a training course.
Advertisement and prospectus
As advertisement for Alexander’s training course Dr Rugg-Gunn wrote the article ‘A New Profession’ for Women’s Employment (1931).
An ‘Open Letter to Intending Students of Training Course’ by F. M. Alexander was published as an appendix to The Use of the Self in 1932. It was also published in a 1935 pamphlet ‘A New Technique’.
Some details of the 1946 structure, fees, etc., are given in a four-page flyer.
F. M. Alexander did not describe his training course or his approach to teacher training. There are however several reports from teachers who trained with him.
Lulie Westfeldt’s memoirs of training with F. M. Alexander were published in 1964 as F. Matthias Alexander: The Man and His Work.
Taking Time, six interviews with first generation teachers, contains many descriptions of Alexander’s training course.
Walter Carrington’s 1946 diary contains descriptions of working on Alexander’s training course.
Goddard Binkley’s diaries contain a description of his time on Alexander’s training course 1954-56.
George Trevelyan’s 1936-38 diary contains some brief descriptions of visiting Alexander’s training course.
Lulie Westfeldt’s memoirs of training with F. M. Alexander contain criticism of the training course and of Alexander. For example, she writes:
Now, however, just before our ﬁrst long holiday in August 1931, a problem that I had sensed from the beginning came to a head and I found myself utterly discouraged. Although I had come the previous March and had had a lesson every day, I still did not understand Alexander’s initial instructions, nor did I know how to carry on the work by myself. Questions were not only not answered but were looked on as symptoms of bad use, and one was ‘reassured’ by being told that as one’s use grew better one would stop asking those things. This was the attitude one met in F. M., his brother A. R., and his secretary.
See also Students at F. M. Alexander’s Course, Three Year Training Course.