‘Re-education’ consists of restoring the organism to its natural function (eradication of faulty habits), whereas ‘education’ consists of learning how to prevent misuse. Alexander believed that a child at birth possessed the potential for healthy development (note that he did not believe that we are necessarily born ‘perfect’).
In fact, when I introduced my method to leading London medical men they quickly admitted the value of this important factor, and expressed their surprise that it had not been previously advocated as such, seeing that from a practical point of view it is so essential, not only in the eradication of respiratory faults or defects (re-education), but also in preventing them (education).
It would appear that Alexander considered naming his technique ‘respiratory re-education’:
The foregoing will serve to draw attention to the far-reaching and beneficial effects of what, for the lack of a more satisfactory and comprehensive name, I refer to as respiratory re-education.
However, like other ideas for a name, ‘respiratory re-education’ did not become a name for his technique as he realised that the scope of his technique went beyond ‘respiratory re-education’. Later, for example in CCC, ‘re-education’ only forms a part of his technique, as there are several references to his technique consisting of ‘re-education, readjustment, and co-ordination’, i.e. more than re-education on its own.
In CCC there is a differentiation between ‘re-education on a conscious plane’ and ‘re-education on a general basis’.
The phrasing (re-education) was used frequently between 1906 (first appearance) and 1923 (CCC), and infrequent thereafter. It was not adopted by subsequent teachers. The idea that there is a ‘natural’ (although it is not clear whether this is innate, instinctive or just ‘best possible’) functioning endures in later phrases, used informally by teachers, such as: ‘The right thing will do itself’, ‘You are quite perfect except for what you are doing’, ‘We are giving nature her opportunity’, and Alexander:
When an investigation comes to be made, it will be found that every single thing we are doing in the Work is exactly what is being done in Nature where the conditions are right, the difference being that we are learning to do it consciously.
Whereas ‘re-education’ is no longer used the term ‘education’ endures as it is universally agreed that the Alexander Technique is an educational process.