-bringing ideas to life







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 www.novis.dk
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



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