Chapter 6: Race Culture and the Training of Children

1. According to Alexander, what are the two methods by which a child learns?

2. How are the foundations of pandering to sensation laid?

3. How according to Alexander do children acquire the vast majority of their wrong habits?

4. Why do parents not choose appropriate models for their children?

5. What potential does a child have, and what is often done with thatpotential?

6. Where do we see most plainly the harmful effects of rigid convention?

7. What is the first essential of teaching?

8. What should teachers do when patently erroneous ideas have been formed?

9. What does Alexander mean by teaching?

10. What does FM look for with regard to education?

Thought Questions

1. Alexander writes that “every child is born into the world with a predisposition to certain habits” (p. 29). If true, where does this predisposition come from and how does it work?

2. Alexander draws a picture of the human infant as helpless and dependent, “its vital processes and movements…for all practical purposes independent of any conscious control” (p. 29). Is this picture accurate? He further writes (p. 29) that “the habits which the child evidences during this protracted period are those hereditary predispositions which are early developed by circumstance and environment….” What is the role of nature vs. nuture in the development of habits? Can in fact, as Alexander states, (p. 30) “…the influence of heredity…be practically eradicated?”

3. Alexander lays great store on imitation as a learning method, especially in a child’s early years. While it is certainly true that children do imitate what they see and hear, what exactly is this process and how does it work? For example, it was formerly believed that language was learned through imitation and repetition, a theory that has been proved false. Children do imitate what they hear, but in such a way that the data is analyzed and reassembled, then reproduced in a novel form. What if this process were equally true of learning to move? And what if this process of analyzing and reassembling input (from whatever sphere) did not end in childhood but continued to serve us as adults? Would this fact have any implication on how we approached teaching?

4. For Alexander is imitation a conscious or a subconscious process? Which do you think it is?