Why Alexander Technique Is Hard To Describe

In choosing your approach for describing A.T., it is worth keeping in mind that many smart people were educationally trained in debate tactics, tactics which often appeal to contradictions of logic toward expose’. Confronted with an entirely new idea or invention, there are many contradicting ways that people will categorically ignore or suspect the value of something entirely new. So it pays to consider how you can avoid or detour these common defenses. It would also be handy to figure ways to do that without stooping to using debate tactics
yourself.I have found that if you take for granted that people are capable of understanding you, they will tend to rise to the occasion. One way is to cut to the chase and clearly define in a “bottom line” way what makes AT unique. Doing this may avoid categorical matching, usually motivated from trying to familiarize new information so it can be retrieved later.

I find that most definitions of A.T. merely talk about what it can do for certain people. Popular articles explore why a particular group of people would want to do it, or these articles might use a biographical format. Suggesting possible uses will not identify what makes A.T. unique, and character portraits can be brushed off as warm and fuzzy biographical style arketing. The myriad of A.T. benefits can be pretty unbelievable. Of course, the most common way is to tell Alexander’s story or your own, using a testimonial format.

Then difficulty in describing A.T. can also come from a confusion about what exactly is being taught, because of the lack of form and generalized application possible. If you say, “Alexander Technique is a format for learning, experimenting and undoing useless habits of movement.” If people are thinking they will be asking, “Who determines what is useless and what should be preserved?”

Let’s try this definition: “A.T. hows an easier way of forming and carrying any intention into action, applied to any field you wantto refine, learn more about or a capacity you want to recover that you have lost.” This sort of description is tricky for people to wrap their mind around because it is so abstract.

Because intangible intentions can only be witnessed in outward action, in AT we use the form of movement to observe what and how means are expressed. Since the content of AT is an intangible learning process that can be
applied to any action, it confuses people. People mistake outer form for inner content. They think AT is an actor’s technique, a golf thing, a singer’s method, for musicians who get hurt or recovery from injury, etc.

The fact that AT is taught tacitly makes it a challenge to describe. AT teachers take pupils beyond words and assumptions over the edge of their dulled senses into a new perceptual capacity. For a trained eye, the evidence of intent can be witnessed in the slightest postural movement. The insensitive student can’t tell what the AT teacher got them to do that made them feel so much freer. Thus, they may regard the AT teacher to be a magician or to have hoodwinked them. (Tricking their habit is probably what happened.)

The way A.T. used to be taught worked against it being easy to talk about. Historically, A.T. was taught by building a new situational challenge in an artificially arbitrary context, which was sitting and standing from a chair. By crafting a skill from scratch using a goal that had little meaning to the student, the chair situation was designed to encourage the suspension of goals and striving for results. During chair work, the teacher would offer a unique script of the meanings of what makes up constructive experimentation, with unique perceptual interpretations of the significance of the cumulative effects of tiny physical patterns of movement. Or put more simply, Alexandrian chair work is best at showing the bad news of what all those little habits will add up to if allowed to continue. Also it shows the good news of how freedom, subtlety and effortlessness works so much easier. Then the student practices choosing between the new and the old and the idea is the student learns to sustain a tolerance for the new ways and prefer them over their old ways. In practice, guided modeling works very slowly to give the person being modeled any idea what is exactly happening. They are sort of being trained as if an animal, without knowing why they are doing the new behavior, underneath their conscious control of themselves.

The Activity model uses the goal of the action itself and its value to the student, evoking the pressures of performance in a group situation. The drive to discover and coordinate more sophisticated improvements related to a hobby or activity is a powerful motivator for thinking of using AT at any particular moment. This form trains students to see subtle and elusive differences that the teacher uses to coach evaluating the results of their experimenting. It’s also great at teaching principles in action, because you get to learn how to see so many different people learn in the group situation.

There can be as many variations of forms of learning as there are qualified teachers, because AT teachers are trained to problem solve unique applications by applying Alexander’s principles. What these principles are usually need to be physically experienced to fully understand their significance. However, if you talk about some of these principles by explaining some of the unique definitions of special words use in A.T., newcomers will sometimes recognize that they have never heard anyone talk about these topics before.

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