I read them first with my adult
Alexander teacher eyes and brain, then I offered them to
Charlie, a 10 year-old boy who has had a number of Alexander
look at them one by one.
Where I Am looks at mind-wandering as
a habit and how to bring the attention back to the present
moment. This is useful for young people to consider, but I
found the text in the book over directional and pedagogic in
tone, and my overall impression was that the book suggests
that when in school a child `ought' to be paying attention
to the teacher and `ought not'
to be daydreaming.
In my own teaching I work to
raise awareness of how `should'
can stimulate shortening and tightening in a young body, and
I find the concepts unhelpful in facilitating an acceptance
of `where I am'.
Having said that, this book could be useful for discussing
with a child their experience of the impact of `should'
and how they contribute to mind-wandering.
What did Charlie think?
"This book says
you have to listen to the teacher and to sit properly. It is
what actual people do."
The second book,
Thinking About A Smile
sets out to look at the impact of anxiety when a child is
asked to read out loud, and how a happy thought and smiling
can allow change in the experience of performing the task.
The introduction makes clear that there should be discussion
with the child about the content and how they experience a
task like reading aloud. This is where the potential value
of these books lies, as a teaching aid rather than as
lessons in themselves. If the discussion arises from the
child's experience and can be
extended by looking at the book I think this is a valuable
way to proceed.
response to this book: "You
be scared about reading in front of the class because that
will make it worse. Everything is about thinking, so if you
have a smile on your face it will seem as if you don't
About the third book
Thinking About Space
Charlie said, "I don't
really understand it" and I rather
agree with him. Introducing the idea of end-gaining I think
has to arise naturally from the child's
experience, rather than creating a device in a book to have
them consider it.
Janette has produced three books
which give us all an opportunity to talk with children about
some of the principles of the Alexander Technique, to use
them as a discussion stimulus with class teachers and with
parents, and perhaps most importantly to stimulate
discussion about children's
learning among Alexander teachers.
think the books can stand alone for either children or class
teachers unless they have direct experience of the
would like to discuss this review or any of the issues the
books raise about working with children with me I would be
delighted to chat.
© Janette Costin 2010