COMPANION

Education – The Alexander Technique for children

This entry covers the teaching of the Technique to children, privately and in schools, and includes parenting.

History

F. M. Alexander

See F. M. Alexander on education.

The Little School

The ‘Little School’ was first started in London (at Ashley Place) in 1924, and was run by Irene Tasker and, from 1934, Margaret Goldie. The school moved in 1934 to Alexander’s residence Penhill House, Nr. Bexley, Kent, where it provided for boarders. Around the same time The F. Matthias Alexander Trust Fund was set up to look after the educational aspects of his work. A brochure states that the object of the school is to ‘teach the children to apply the principles of the New Technique to all their lessons and other activities.’ In UCL Alexander writes that he has worked with children as young as two and a half and that the school has been taking children on up to the age of sixteen. The majority of the Trust funds was used in 1940 to pay for Alexander and six children to sail to the USA. The Fund was not used again and was later dissolved.

‘Connecting Links’ by Irene Tasker contains sections on the origin and the teaching at the Little School.[1] The Irene Tasker biography also contains information on the origin and the teaching methods adopted for the Little School.[2]

See also The Little School.

The Alexander Foundation School

The Alexander Foundation School was a small private boarding school, running from c. 1947 to the late 1950s or early 1960s in Pennsylvania. It grew out of work done by Alexander teachers at the Media Friends School.

See also The Alexander Foundation School.

Later educational projects

See books and articles below, and:

  • ‘A history of educational Alexander projects after the Little School’ by Judith Kleinman is a brief overview of some projects of teaching the Alexander Technique in schools.[3]

Teaching in kindergarten and schools – Books

‘Implications for Education in the Work of F. M. Alexander – An exploratory project in a public school classroom’ by Ann Mathews recounts the author’s own initial experiences of misuse and change through lessons, her first explorations of children’s response to Alexander work, and finally gives an account of a year’s project of teaching the principles of the Technique in a first and second grade classroom.[4]

  • Moving to Learn – A Classroom Guide to Understanding and Using Good Body Mechanics by Michele Arsenault is a comprehensive example of a manual for Alexander Technique classroom teaching for 5-13 years old, with emphasis on the structure of the body.[5]
  • Alexander in Primary Education by Sue Merry is written for Alexander Technique teachers who are working with children aged 3-11 years; containing a history of EduCare, notes, ideas and games for children, and contains two stories for children aged 3–7.[6]
  • Alexander in Secondary and Tertiary Education by Judith Kleinman describes exercises, games and ideas to introduce the concepts of the Technique; a section on the most effective language and approach; and how to collaborate with educational institutions.[7]

Teaching in kindergarten and schools – Articles

  • ‘Bringing the Alexander Technique to children in state schools’ by Sue Thame reports on teaching the Technique in several schools in Surrey 1979–82, concluding with four recommendations.[8]
  • ‘Adult relationships with children’ by Jean Shepard relates her experiences of teaching the Technique to children in two different schools, London and Witham, Essex.[9]
  • ‘The Alexander Technique in a primary school’ by Salla da Costa; on her experiences of teaching in a primary school, both to teachers and pupils of the school.[10]
  • ‘Educare Small School’ by Sue Merry is a brief introduction to the Educare Small School which was formed in 1997.[11]
  • ‘Be here now – The Alexander Technique and concentration’ by Alexis Niki relates her working at the American Library in Paris with two groups of children, 8–12 year olds, and 13–18 year olds.[12]
  • ‘The education system’ (no author); on Sue Merry’s experiences of teaching the Alexander Technique at Educare.[13]
  • ‘Blending Alexander into a child’s life’ (no author) reports on some case histories of Gal Ben-Or teaching children one-to-one and in class situations.[14]
  • ‘A new kind of normal – Understanding the trauma within childhood disorders’ by Michele Arsenault; on a search of the root causes of the challenging behaviours and poor-use postures of children diagnosed with a host of neuro-biological disorders (Asperger Syndrome, Autism, PTSD, etc.), and on teaching children with these disorders.[15]
  • ‘Learning about learning’ by Daisy Cockburn shares her experiences of teaching the Technique in private lessons in two girls’ schools 2005–2011.[16]
  • ‘Learning to make decisions and move with confidence’ by Kate Minogue is a report on a two-part training programme on teaching the Alexander Technique in schools and colleges.[17]
  • ‘Teaching Alexander in primary education’ by Sue Merry relates her journey of teaching in primary schools since she started in 1994.[18]
  • ‘Alexander Technique in education: A blueprint for the future’ by Catherine Fleming, Monika Gross, Alice Olsher, Wolfgang Weiser is a report of a panel discussion, which discussed in particular present teaching and promotion of the Technique for children in schools, the different approaches AT teachers have of working within schools, and strategies for bringing the AT into schools.[19]

Case studies with individual children

  • ‘The Alexander Technique in the kindergarten’ by Laura Harwood relates her experiences of teaching for a year for 21 five-year olds in a state-run school in Brookline, Massachusetts, many of whom spoke English as a second language.[20]
  • ‘Working with aliens: A child case study with the Alexander Technique’ by Mika Hadar-Borthwick; on working in a Childrens Healing Clinic with two children, one being seven and unable to walk because of contracting a virus in the lower part of his spine.[21]
  • ‘Working with children – Two case studies’ by Gal Ben-Or.[22]

Generally on teaching children – Books

  • Playing with Posture by Sue Holladay; on how the Alexander Technique can help parents and carers improve their children's posture and learning capabilities.[23]
  • Directions for Life – Alexander Technique for Children and Youth by Gal Ben-Or covers the author’s extensive experience of giving lessons to children (school and pre-school), with case histories (including working with teenagers for young people struggling with various kinds of problems), his approach, and the importance of teaching family members as well.[24]
  • How are we living our lives?– Interview and talks 1982-1988 edited by Chariclia Gounaris is a compilation of Grethe Laub interviews and talks.[25]

Generally on teaching children – Articles

  • ‘Present day trends in the upbringing of children’ by Grethe Laub is her paper presented at the 1988 Brighton International Congress, on the subtle influences of the environment on children.[26]
  • ‘Understanding children’ by Grethe Laub is a talk given to Alexander Teachers on the subject of teaching the Technique to children.[27]
  • ‘An Alexander Teacher’s view of child education – An interview with Grethe Laub’ by Joe Armstrong covers her work with children both individually and in groups, before and after training in the Technique.[28]
  • ‘Establishing good health for life’ by Sue Scott suggests that an understanding of energy flows can help the Alexander Technique teacher in teaching children the Technique.[29]
  • ‘Getting in touch with the child’ by Ronald Colyer; on communicating at the child’s level, and using intuition rather than science.[30]
  • ‘The home as a learning environment for children under five’ by Bridget Belgrave contains some observations on bringing the Alexander Technique into a home environment.[31]
  • ‘Observering and understanding group energy’ by Vivien Plews set out to understand communication in groups, especially when teaching children in groups.[32]
  • ‘A perspective on parenting’ by Catherine Madden on the application of the Technique to parenting, with two children.[33]
  • ‘A positive approach to children’ by Sue Scott is on the importance of establishing a relationship with the child, a conversation, which is not dependent on hands-on work.[34]
  • ‘Alexander and Montessori’ by Nicola Hanefeld covers the similarities between the two methods, especially on the subject of non-doing and on adults as the source of the problem.[35]
  • ‘The embodied child’ by Ted Dimon argues that the Alexander Technique’s potential role in child development and education should be a field of study, citing examples such as use, attention and psychophysical health.[36]
  • ‘Frustration: A project with young people’ by Polly Waterfield reports on a project collecting pupils’ (mainly at secondary boarding schools) frustrations with working online in general, from an AT perspective.[37]

Alexander Technique stories for children

  • The Labyrinth of Gar – An adventure story and Alexander Technique intro for children by Sue Merry is for 7–12 year olds.[38]
  • Alexander in Primary Education by Sue Merry also contains two stories for children aged 3–7.[39]
  • Janette Costin has produced five illustrated booklets for making children paying attention to aspects of their use: ‘Thinking About Colour’, ‘Thinking About Support’, ‘Thinking About A Smile’, ‘Thinking About Space’, ‘Thinking Where I Am’.[40]
  • ‘The Journey’ by Anne Whitehead and Rosa Vaughan is an illustrated story on presence, mindfulness and not rushing for 5-8 year olds.[41]

Research

‘Aller Anfang ist leicht – ‘Beginning is easy’ by Alexandra Mazek reports on the results from a project teaching for three months of the year 2004-05, when a team of Alexander teachers led 10 sessions of 1.5–2 hours to a third-year class of an Austrian elementary school.[42]

Related

Choice of Habit by Jack Vinten Fenton: Inspired by the Alexander Technique an experienced headmaster investigated the movement habits of school children and how to improve them. Guided and inspired by the Alexander Technique, Fenton first shows how serious the problem of harmful habits of movement can be, and, second, how teaching in schools can make a significant difference. Fenton's own comprehensive and original research into the habits of school children and how to improve their use and performance is documented. Among his own research is an examination of 1,000 children, aged between 5 and 18 years.[43]

STAT runs a special interest group, ‘Alexander in Education’.[44]

See also F. M. Alexander on education, Ergonomics, Grethe Laub, Irene Tasker.

References

[1] ‘Connecting Links’ (1967) by Irene Tasker (The Sheildrake Press, 1978).
[2] Irene Tasker – Her Life and Work with the Alexander Technique by Regina Stratil (Mouritz, 2020).
[3] ‘A history of educational Alexander projects after the Little School’ by Judith Kleinman in The Congress Papers 2004, Exploring the Principles edited by Anne Oppenheimer (STATBooks, 2005), pp. 209–16.
[4] ‘Implications for Education in the Work of F. M. Alexander – An exploratory project in a public school classroom’ by Ann Mathews (IRDEAT, 1984).
[5] Moving to Learn – A Classroom Guide to Understanding and Using Good Body Mechanics by Michele Arsenault (Author, 1998).
[6] Alexander in Primary Education – A Workbook and Practical Guide to Teaching the Alexander Technique in Primary Schools by Sue Merry (Author, 2018).
[7] Alexander in Secondary and Tertiary Education by Judith Kleinman (author, 2018).
[8] ‘Bringing the Alexander Technique to children in state schools’ by Sue Thame in The Congress Papers 1988: Towards Unity edited by Jeremy Chance (Direction, 1994), pp. 157–160.
[9] ‘Adult relationships with children’ by Jean Shepard in The Congress Papers 1988: Towards Unity edited by Jeremy Chance (Direction, 1994), pp. 129–33.
[10] ‘The Alexander Technique in a primary school’ by Salla da Costa in STATNews vol. 6, no. 9 edited by Ann James (STAT, January 2003), pp. 16–17.
[11] ‘Educare Small School’ by Sue Merry in STATNews vol. 6, no. 9 edited by Ann James (STAT, January 2003), p. 18.
[12] ‘Be here now – The Alexander Technique and concentration’ by Alexis Niki in AmSAT News issue no. 70 (Spring 2006), pp. 28–30.
[13] ‘The education system’ (no author) in Direction vol. 3, no. 8 edited by Paul Cook (Direction Journal, 2010), pp. 20–25.
[14] ‘Blending Alexander into a child’s life’ (no author) in Direction vol. 3, no. 8 edited by Paul Cook (Direction Journal, 2010), pp. 26–32.
[15] ‘A new kind of normal – Understanding the trauma within childhood disorders’ by Michele Arsenault in Direction vol. 3, no. 8 edited by Paul Cook (Direction Journal, 2010), pp. 33–38.
[16] ‘Learning about learning’ by Daisy Cockburn in STATNews vol. 9, no. 4 edited by Jamie McDowell (STAT, May 2016), pp. 14–16.
[17] ‘Learning to make decisions and move with confidence’ by Kate Minogue in STATNews vol. 9, no. 8 edited by Jamie McDowell (STAT, September 2017), pp. 21–22.
[18] ‘Teaching Alexander in primary education’ by Sue Merry in STATNews vol. 9, no. 10 edited by Jamie McDowell (STAT, May 2018), pp. 1, 16.
[19] ‘Alexander Technique in education: A blueprint for the future’ by Catherine Fleming, Monika Gross, Alice Olsher, Wolfgang Weiser in The Congress Papers 2018, Advancing Global Perspectives edited by Paul Marsh (STAT Books, 2019), pp. 72–85.
[20] ‘The Alexander Technique in the kindergarten’ by Laura Harwood in The Alexander Journal no. 12 edited by Adam Nott (STAT, 1992), pp. 29–32.
[21] ‘Working with aliens: A child case study with the Alexander Technique’ by Mika Hadar-Borthwick in STATNews vol. 4, no. 15 edited by Malcolm Williamson (STAT, June 1996), pp. 1, 12–13. Also in Direction vol. 2, no. 9 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 2000), pp. 5–10.
[22] ‘Working with children – Two case studies’ by Gal Ben-Or, AmSAT News issue no. 60, Summer 2003, pp. 14-15.
[23] Playing with Posture by Sue Holladay (HITE, 2012).
[24] Directions for Life – Alexander Technique for Children and Youth by Gal Ben-Or (author, 2011).
[25] How are we living our lives?– Interview and talks 1982-1988 by Grethe Laub. Edited by Chariclia Gounaris (Novis, 2006).
[26] ‘Present day trends in the upbringing of children’ by Grethe Laub in The Congress Papers 1988: Towards Unity edited by Jeremy Chance (Direction, 1994), pp. 98–101.
[27] ‘Understanding Children’ by Grethe Laub (unknown, 1984).
[28] ‘An Alexander Teacher's View of Child Education – An interview with Grethe Laub’ by Grethe Laub and Joe Armstrong (Joe Armstrong, 1984).
[29] ‘Establishing good health for life’ by Sue Scott in The Congress Papers 1988: Towards Unity edited by Jeremy Chance (Direction, 1994), pp. 124–28.
[30] ‘Getting in touch with the child’ by Ronald Colyer in The Congress Papers 1988: Towards Unity edited by Jeremy Chance (Direction, 1994), pp. 80–83.
[31] ‘The home as a learning environment for children under five’ by Bridget Belgrave in The Congress Papers 1988: Towards Unity edited by Jeremy Chance (Direction, 1994), pp. 55–59.
[32] ‘Observing and understanding group energy’ by Vivien Plews in The Congress Papers 1988: Towards Unity edited by Jeremy Chance (Direction, 1994), pp. 108–111.
[33] ‘A perspective on parenting’ by  Catherine Madden in Direction vol. 1, no. 6 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1990), pp. 221–24.
[34] ‘A positive approach to children’ by Sue Scott in Direction vol. 1, no. 6 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1990), pp. 211–15.
[35] ‘Alexander and Montessori’ by Nicola Hanefeld in The Alexander Journal no. 15 edited by Adam Nott (STAT, 1997), pp. 27–30.
[36] ‘The embodied child’ by Ted Dimon in The Congress Papers 2018, Advancing Global Perspectives edited by Paul Marsh (STAT Books, 2019), pp. 63–72.
[37] ‘Frustration: A project with young people’ by Polly Waterfield in STATNews vol. 11, no. 3 edited by Jamie McDowell (STAT, September 2021), pp. 14–15.
[38] The Labyrinth of Gar – An adventure story and Alexander Technique intro for children by Sue Merry (Author, 2004).
[39] Alexander in Primary Education – A Workbook and Practical Guide to Teaching the Alexander Technique in Primary Schools by Sue Merry (Author, 2018).
[40] ‘Thinking About Colour’, ‘Thinking About Support’, ‘Thinking About A Smile’, ‘Thinking About Space’, ‘Thinking Where I Am’ by Janette Costin (author, 2010), booklets.
[41] ‘The Journey’ by Anne Whitehead and Rosa Vaughan (HITE, 2016), booklet.
[42] ‘Aller Anfang ist leicht – ‘Beginning is easy’ by Alexandra Mazek in The Congress Papers 2008, From Generation to Generation Vol. 2 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (STATBooks, 2009), pp. 103–12.
[43] Choice of Habit by Jack Vinten Fenton (Mouritz, 2010 [1973]).
[44] ‘A letter from the Alexander in Education group’ by Judith, Esther, Julia O., Henry, Julia C., Judith Kleinman in STATNews vol. 9, no. 9 edited by Jamie McDowell (STAT, January 2018), p. 9.
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