Mindful Swimming with Chie Cross
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At the request of the American philosopher and educationalist John Dewey, FM Alexander visited a "progressive" school in America. He watched a psychologist working with several of the children. All of them exhibited what Alexander called "a poor manner of using themselves." Alexander asked the psychologist what it was he had done. The psychologist said he had observed the children carefully in order to make a judgement about their behaviour and their potentialities.

Alexander asked, "But how can you form such judgements when their use of themselves is obviously as bad as it is? How can you determine what their capacities and potentialities are when they are not able, under the present circumstances of their poor use, to properly manifest them? You wouldn't judge the performance of your car if you knew there were certain mechanical deficiencies in the engine."

Alexander's student asked him: "You mean that before judging the present and the prospective abilities of these children their poor use should be set right?"

"Exactly so," Alexander replied.

-- From Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual

  After I had worked on this plan for a considerable time, I became free from my tendency to revert to my wrong habitual use in reciting, and the marked effect of this upon my functioning convinced me that I was at last on the right track, for once free from this tendency, I also became free from the throat and vocal trouble and from the respiratory and nasal difficulties with which I had been beset from birth.

--  From The Use of the Self, "Evolution of a Technique"

  When I started to work out the technique, I had such a horror of my school that the remembrance of it was still with me all the time, the remembrance of everyone concerned asking me to try to be right, and of my finding out later on in life that my right was wrong, as I knew, by the sensory consciousness that was within me, was wrong. I was horrified and I decided that before I could enter the teaching work, I would develop a technique which would enable me to teach the child in such a way that the fear reflexes would never be unduly excited, and we have that technique today.

-- From Articles and Lectures "An Unrecognized Principle in Human Behaviour"

Take, for instance, the simple act of learning to write. In the case of the average badly coordinated pupil there will be present certain impeding factors on account of which learning to write becomes a comparitively complicated proceeding.

-- Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual, Part I, Complexity and Complications of Civilized Life

Any attentive observer who will watch the movement of these children's fingers, hand, wrist, arm, neck and body generally, cannot fail to note the lack of coordination between these parts. The fingers are probably attempting to perform the duties of the arm, the shoulders are humped, the head twisted on one side. In short, energies are being projected to parts of the mechanism which have little or no influence on the performance of the desired act.

-- Man's Supreme Inheritance chap. VII

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