How Are We Living Our Lives
Viewpoints on the Alexander
Technique in relation to living and child education
Grethe Laub. Interview and talks 1982-1988. Publ. Novis
Publications, Denmark, 3rd October 2006. Compiled and edited
by Chariclia Gounaris, pbk, 152pp, illustrated, 148 x 210
mm, price £16.50 + p&p. ISBN 87-89389-11-5. Order from
Review by Joshua Enkin
(first published in Statnews, February 2007)
How Are We Living Our Lives? is a series of talks by -and
an interview with -Grethe Laub that took place from
1982-1988. Grethe had a long teaching career: twenty-seven
years as a nursery school teacher, followed by thirty years
as a teacher of the Alexander Technique. She had special
knowledge of how to use the Technique in teaching children
to be creative, well balanced and fully alive.
In her interview with Joe Armstrong in 1984, Grethe
described how important it was for a child to know it is
liked -in order for the child to ‘open up’. She stressed
that one must observe and listen to what the child says.
With this contact established, one will be able to work
successfully with the child ‘Alexander-wise’.
She emphasised that it was most important to have something
to do with the child outside of the Technique before one
starts teaching it to them -in order to know about their
interests and daily life. Grethe also wanted school teachers
to study the Alexander Technique so that, with better
co-ordination, they would be able to give out more
successfully what they had inside of themselves and in such
a way that the children would listen.
Grethe learned from children that you must get down to the
root of their problems if you want to help them. She saw
children as open and honest -and to be trusted. She was a
very feeling and intuitive person and this helped her to
bring out the confidence that children needed to tap into in
order to ‘be oneself’. She believed the grown-up must find
the appropriate ‘means-whereby’ to guide the child.
On pages 84-89, she tells the ‘Story of Anders’ -the story
of a five-year-old boy with whom she had outstanding
learning experiences. Here, she explains in depth her
ability to bring the Alexander Technique to life to give
this child the chance to grow confidently.
The book also describes her personal journey, from teaching
nursery school children in Denmark to her first meeting with
Alexander himself in 1949: "After my first lesson, he said
to me: ‘You can be helped.’ This became a milestone in my
life." She trained in the Technique 1962-1965 with Walter
Carrington -and made almost yearly trips after that to stay
involved with the course.
Grethe believed that we have to think in a new way and make
much more effort in bringing up our children. If we are to
reverse the tendency towards limitation and suffering, it is
essential that we bring up our children to be conscious
individuals with the possibility to act on the basis of
conscious choices -and not merely on the basis of habitual
patterns. How very topical all of this is in 2007.
Chariclia Gounaris has compiled and edited these talks and
letters in a most sensitive and thoughtful manner. This book
is a great tribute to Grethe’s life-work, both with children
and with the Alexander Technique. I feel so blessed to have
known Grethe from 1984 until her passing in 1996. She was an
incredibly giving, thoughtful, eccentric and loving human
being -and the beauty for us, now, is that all of this is
so sensitively captured in this book.
© Joshua Enkin 2007