This entry covers a formal or structured Alexander Technique teacher training, typically taking place in a class and taking 2–4 years to complete. (For individual, personal training, see Apprenticeship training. For details of individual training course see Institutions > Teacher Training Courses.) The entry does not contain societies’ internal debate on teacher training policies.
Three year teacher training
Alexander started his first three-year training course in 1931 and, apart from the interruption by World War II, it continued until his death in 1955. The three-year model has been adopted by many Alexander Teachers’ societies.
The first teacher training course started in 1931 at 16, Ashley Place, and 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, also started a training course around 1956. And in 1956 Patrick Macdonald started a training course at Ashley Place.
These three training courses were the only three-year teacher training courses until 1972 when Peter Scott started a course (a continuation of Patrick Macdonald’ course). Paul Collins and Betty Collins (later Langford) started a teachers training course in the 1970s which folded around 1979. Several other three-year training courses started in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The structure of Alexander’s training course is described by Lulie Westfeldt:
The course met ﬁve days a week for nine months in the year. F. M. would work with us from ten to twelve in the morning, and often his brother A. R., until he went to the United States in 1933, would work with us too.
In addition, the students would meet for three or four hours in the afternoon and work with each other. However, this extra-hours arrangement appears unique to the first training course (1931–34).
Following the formation of the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT) in 1958 some rules regarding training courses were agreed upon. STAT has since expanded upon the rules to include minimum criteria, and later to govern the approval and conduct of training courses. By the mid-1970s the minimum criteria consisted of 1,600 hours over three years, with five days a week, and three hours per day. These have since been modified so, for example, four days a week is allowed as well. Affiliated societies to STAT follow similar rules. Other Alexander Teacher organisations adopt an apprenticeship model or a modular approach.
The three-year teacher training course structure is also used by some teachers who are not members of STAT or its affiliated societies.
Marjorie Barstow, Extended Apprenticeship Training Program
Marjorie Barstow ran classes on the application of the Technique to activities and later recognised some of the participants at these classes as teachers. She called this training an ‘extended apprenticeship training program’.
Many teachers have designed their own structure of teacher training, and hence some training courses may consist of a mixture of class-room training, of private lessons, of group training, of home work, and of a time structure which can be either set (fixed times at a fixed location) or modular, either requiring a number of hours to be completed or based on some competency assessment (e.g. written exams) – or any combination of these.
Writings – General
Some of the descriptions of F. M. Alexander’s training course also contain some descriptions of later training courses; for these see F. M. Alexander Teacher Training.
Taking Time, six interviews with first generation teachers, contain a description by Walter and Dilys Carrington on the development of the training course following Alexander’s death.
‘The training course at Lansdowne Road’ by Walter Carrington, Dilys Carrington, Ruth Murray is a description of the structure of the course at the Constructive Teaching Centre.
‘Schools for thought’ compares three teachers training courses, ACAT (directed by Brooke Lieb), the Alexander Teacher Training College (directed by Richard Brennan), the Bodythought Centre (directed by Galit Zeif).
‘Two trainings on time’; on time for training and student-teacher ratio, on CPD, and on group teaching skills by the directors of two training courses (Alexander Technique Centre Amsterdam run by Paul Versteeg and Tessa Marwick, and the Alexander Technique Training School run by Anthony Kingsley).
‘Hidden pathways’ by Cathy Madden contains observations and quotations from five people from a survey the author conducted with people who have studied the Technique via an ‘alternative pathway’ (i.e. not a classical three-year training course).
‘The means–whereby of excellence’ by Brooke Lieb; on support during training and after training, how to find the most effective learning support for your own continued growth.
Writings – Debate on three-year training courses
‘All training courses are inadequate’ by Kri Ackers argues that no training course can be perfect for everybody, that training courses can only equip students with practices and procedures that have potential for gaining more experience.
‘Accreditation – The possibilities’ by Carolyn Nicholls is a description of how the training course, the Alexander Technique College in Brighton, is accredited by The Open College Network at Level 4+.
‘How do we educate teachers of the Alexander Technique?’ by Gabriella Minnes Brandes, Nili Bassan, Ruth Kilroy, David Moore, and Judith C. Stern debating the challenges and strengths of the current model for teacher training used by STAT and other societies.
‘International Panel: To assess or not to assess? That is the question’ by Kathleen Ballard, Carol Boggs, Ed Bouchard, Terry Fitzgerald, Ann Rodiger and David Moore; short reports on the history of steps towards regulation in the UK, on the AT teacher competency assessment project in the USA, on Terry Fitzgerald’s research into assessment standards for AT teacher training, on the assessment process adopted by David Moore for the purpose of an Advanced Diploma of AT teaching accredited in Australia.
The PhD thesis, ‘The Future of Alexander Technique Teacher Education’ by Terry Fitzgerald criticises using a time-specific numerical protocol – 1600 hours attendance over three years – instead of an assessment of compentencies as a qualification criterion. (For criticism of the thesis, see review in Conscious Control, 2008.) A short version appeared in the 2004 Oxford Congress Papers.
See also F. M. Alexander’s Teacher Training, Apprenticeship training, Marjorie Barstow.