Class Struggle — 13 Comments

  1. Sometimes in lessons my students who have to speak in public as part of their jobs try to tell me that “they simply don’t have time to think of their head and body” when they’re presenting. It is stories like the one that you have shared that give the lie to this.
    We make so many judgements about the person teaching us long before they begin delivering their content, purely on the basis of the manner of their presence in front of us. We decide, in fact, whether we are going to take the time to listen to the presenter.
    First impressions count. So taking the time to think about your head before you begin can save you a lot of time and stress in the long run, and make you a better teacher.
    Thanks, Robert!

    • That’s a good point Jennifer – do some thinking before you start.

      I also think that this kind of potentially stressful and overwhelming situation cries out for negative Alexander Technique directions – they are, in my experience, a lot easier to deploy. Not to mention that they are more effective.

  2. Great blog, Robert! Yes, there are so many signals we may be unconsciously giving off that are possibly quite the opposite of our intention. And I think you are right in your observation that we often unconsciously mirror the signals of those around us, especially those of a teacher or presenter to whom everyone is paying particular attention. Alexander Technique is wonderful in that you learn to know more accurately what you personally are doing with your body (and so avoid the unwanted signals), and you can better read the signals of those around you – both great tools for anyone who is a performer or presenter, but indeed all of us as we interact with anyone.

    • Thanks Imogen. One thing I come upon over and over again is my students who want to work with some form of public speaking frequently tend to pull their upper torso back when they start to speak. This sends a signal that you don’t really want to be there and it’s something they can fairly easily learn to change.

  3. Such astute observations about how we communicate bodily. What’s particularly interesting, in addition to students’ imitation of the less skilled teacher’s physical habits, is how physical disconnection leads to social disconnection, and how physical integration sparks warm interaction. Thanks for this!

  4. Great point Joan. If you start to look for it, you’ll be able to spot teachers/lecturers/politicians/clergy who’s harmful habits of posture and speech create that kind of social disconnection – and the opposite, the successful ones, who create social connection just by being there.

  5. Great blogpost! I think everyone can relate to what you describe. Gives the reader inspiration to observe the connection between use and functioning. Very instructive and informative.

    Halvard Heggdal

  6. Great post, Robert, I enjoyed reading it very much–especially because swimming is the one sport that I really love. I had two AT lessons with two different teachers before I found the teacher that was a good “fit” for me. I am SO glad that I instinctively knew the value of AT, and also knew that not all teachers are right for everyone at any given time. I remember very clearly the moment the third teacher opened the door for me and invited me into his home for the first lesson with me; I knew instantly that this teacher would be right for me–that this time, it would “work”–and I was right. How did I know? It must have been something about his use that put me at ease, instilled trust and confidence, and inspired me. It was unconscious, and quick. Yes, first impressions are very important, and we teach others through our own use, every moment, whether we are aware of it or not.

    • As a shoeshine guy at O’Hare Airport once said to me, in trying to get me to let him shine my grungy hiking boots, “You don’t ever get a second chance to make a first impression.”

  7. What happens if you’re too mellow when you talk and people fall asleep like flies on a hot day…and you’d like them to stay awake!
    That’s a funny problem to have, isn’t it?

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