Teaching without correcting

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I am used to giving corrections. Especially at home with my children I find myself correcting and demanding all day long. “Clean up your room, hurry up, do your homework, go to bed….” When I am at work, I just continue to correct and demand. In any sports class I teach, I tell the participants what they should and should not be doing. A couple of my ordinary remarks during squatting:

  • Keep your knees over your feet
  • Tense your abdominals
  • Place your feet at shoulder width
  • Retract your shoulders
  • Squeeze your glutes
Teaching: say less and notice more!
Timothy Gallwey

This morning I taught body workout and total workout at the Radboud Sports Centre. Both classes went well and all participant moved easily and joyfully. Suddenly I realized that I did not correct any more. I heard myself say things like:

  • Feel the ground underneath your feet
  • Allow the movement to flow easily
  • Feel your breath
  • Feel the rhythm of the movement

Instead of telling the student what he should be doing, I help him become of aware of what he is doing. I invite him to look at himself, to track his own movements. Instead of me watching him, he is watching himself. As a result, movement grows smoother and easier. This is what the Alexander Technique is all about. Combining Alexander’s discovery with an ordinary aerobics class results in better coordination and more fun!

What was Alexander’s discovery?

F.M. Alexander was an actor with voice problems. At first the problems were restricted to a heavy breath, but slowly his voice started to deteriorate until he was not able to use his voice anymore. He looked for help, but nobody could solve his problems. He then decided to find his own solution. He watched himself in a mirror while he was talking and he saw himself struggling for air and sound. He used all of his muscles just to speak! He had not been aware of this, but seeing what happened created a change. He trained himself to see more and more, not just with his eyes but with his propriocepsis as well, his ability to feel his body. His awareness improved and so did his voice. It took him a long time to understand why his voice had recovered, but when he did, Alexander Technique was born. The essence of the Technique is: becoming aware of your body will improve your coordination.

As a sports teacher I was used to correct any mistake I saw. Since I have changed my way of teaching, the classes’ atmosphere has changed as well. People have fun while moving! Focusing on mistakes makes you feel like a failure, like you are not good enough. You might even take that frustration home with you! Improving awareness while moving has no judgment, you are doing fine! That is a great feeling, that is what I would like to teach.