Chapter 3: Imperfect Sensory Appreciation

1. In what way must a reliable sensory appreciation be obtained for the organism?

2. Is it possible, according to Alexander, for a person who has a reliable sensory appreciation developed on a subconscious basis to have that reliability continue?

3. What must be recognized by the teacher in the practical work of re-education?

4. What will this recognition do for the teacher’s expectations of the pupil’s ability to perform satisfactorily any new psycho-physical act?

5. What marks the point of departure between methods of teaching on a conscious vs. a subconscious basis?

6. What does Alexander’s scheme of education first demand?

7. What is of primary importance in this scheme?

8. What is the teacher’s mode of procedure?

9. What does this procedure constitute?

10. What must take first place in this work?

11. What does the teacher do from the outset?

12. What is all important in what happens using this procedure? Why?

13. What is the aim of re-education on a general basis?

14. What is the second point to be noted in Alexander’s scheme of education?

15. What is of utmost importance that the pupil should accept?

16. What is the harm in pupils following their habitual procedure? What is the benefit in following a new procedure?

17. What is impressed upon the pupil from the beginning?

18. Why does the “end” not matter?

19. On what does the ability to break long established habits depend?

20. In what way is all responsibility for the final result taken off the pupil?

21. What is asked of the pupil?

22. How does the pupil learn to resist the immediate call of instinctive habit?

23. What do most pupils not do vis-a-vis the giving of orders and the act of which the order(s) is the forerunner?

24. What do most pupils do as soon as they are asked to give a certain continuous order?

25. What does a relapse into old habits do?

26. In Alexander’s example on p. 158, why has the pupil’s habit of stiffening his neck come about?

27. Of what is his stiffened neck a symptom?

28. What would the pupil be doing if he attempted directly to relax his neck?

29. Would such an attempt be likely to be successful?

30. Is it likely that pupils can do anything themselves to remedy their defects? Why or why not?

31. What type of pupil is most unwilling to believe that they really do not know what they are doing?

32. What is the order to relax your neck equivalent to?

33. What will happen if pupils try to relax their neck by direct means?

34. What is another difficulty which pupils make for themselves?

35. What do pupils forget that makes for this difficulty?

36. What point is new in the scheme we are considering?

37. Upon what does the satisfactory employment of orders depend?

38. What is the object of psycho-physical re-education?

39. How is inhibition effected?

40. Following inhibition, to what will the pupil give attention?

41. Which are the “preventive orders?”

42. What is a contributing factor to the harmful condition of lack of inhibitory development that children manifest?

43. What is the result of this early training of children?

44. What do pupils really mean when they insist that giving orders is a difficulty?

45. Where does the difficulty really lie?

46. Upon what will a pupil’s success in achieving an end depend?

47. What three stages or conditions can the pupil be in?

48. What is the purpose of inhibition?

49. What means-whereby does the teacher use when attempting to re-educate a pupil who speaks too quickly?

50. What must a pupil have in all vocal use before making any attempt to put these principles into practice?

51. After the pupil has a correct conception of what is involved in speaking, what does the teacher ask the pupil to do?

52. What two acts does the teacher ask the pupil to perform?

53. What objection will the pupil likely make?

54. What does this objection mean?

55. Why will the pupil object to the new instructions?

56. What will constitute the necessary pause between the sentences?

57. What can pupils learn which will help them overcome their vocal difficulties?

58. What objection will the pupil in a singing lesson give to the idea of inhibiting, and then giving the correct guiding orders?

59. Why is this objection moot?

60. What is the relationship between speed and a satisfactory psycho-
physical functioning?

61. What in most cases is the most difficult problem to be solved in the sphere of sensory appreciation?

62. Even if it were possible to tell a pupil the degree of relative muscular tension required at any given moment, why would it be impractical to do so?

63. What from the teacher’s point of view is the most difficult problem to be solved?

64. What is the chief danger involved in the performance of exercises associated with systems of physical culture?

65. What problem will have to be satisfactorily solved if ever a plan of development by means of exercises to be performed according to written or spoken instructions is ever to be evolved?

66. What is called for in the correct performance of the evolution Alexander is about to describe?

67. What must we learn to differentiate between in connection with supplying instructions to a pupil?

Thought Questions

1. Alexander writes (p. 152) that “the teacher…uses expert manipulation to give the pupil the new sensory experiences required for the satisfactory use of the mechanisms concerned…” and in this chapter often often uses the term “give” in relation to a teacher giving a pupil a new sensory experience or correct guiding orders. Yet use of the term “give” connotes an object that can be given, like a book. In what way can one person give a sensory experience to someone else? Does the giver have to know what the sensory experience is before it can be given? What is the responsibility of the recipient in this situation? If correct sensory experience is a thing that can be given, can it also be lost, and if so, how does the recipient get it back? Does it make a difference if teachers think their responsibility is to give something to a pupil vs. teach a pupil a new way of thinking that if engaged in would result in a new sensory experience?

2. Alexander talks about (p. 153) the teacher giving the pupil “the new reliable sensory appreciation and the very best opportunity possible to connect the different guiding orders before attempting to put them into practice. This linking-up of the guiding orders or directions is all-important, for it is the counterpart of that linking-up of the parts of the organism which constitutes what we call co- ordination.” To what are these guiding orders connected? To each other? Or to the “new reliable sensory appreciation?” If the connection is to the latter, what prevents this recitation of orders while the teacher gives a sensory experience through expert manipulation from being a form of Pavlovian conditioning?

3. Alexander writes (p. 168) “…in this sphere of sensory appreciation, the most difficult problem to be solved, in most cases, is concerned with the matter of developing a correct register of the due and proper amount of so-called “muscular tension” necessary at a given time.” How can a new sensory appreciation allow us to know ahead of time (i.e. before making a movement) the minimum amount of “muscular tension” needed? Is there a procedure which would ensure that a proper minimum amount of muscular tension would be used? If so, what is the role for the new sensory appreciation?

4. Alexander writes (p. 151) that the teacher will not “…expect a pupil to be able to perform satisfactorily any new psycho-physical act until the new correct experiences in sensory appreciation involved have become established.” What does it mean for a sensory experience to be established? Are sensory experiences things, like tools, that exist to be used when we need them, or are they the result of the directing of our mechanism, “…developed and maintained throughout the organism…by the reliance of the individual, not upon subconscious, but upon conscious, reasoning guidance and control.”

5. Alexander writes (p. 152) of the teacher using “…expert manipulation to give to the pupil the new sensory experiences required for the satisfactory use of the mechanisms concerned, the while giving him the correct guiding orders or directions which are the counterpart of the new sensory experiences which he is endeavouring to develop by means of his manipulation,” and later (p. 156) of the pupil learning “…to remember gradually and connect up the guiding orders which are the counterpart of the means whereby the teacher is employing to bring about the desired “end.” ” In what way are guiding orders the counterpart of new sensory experiences? What is the relation between them? What is the manipulation that teachers do with their hands and is it a merely “physical” thing, i.e. a rearranging of parts of the mechanism so they function more efficiently, or are teachers somehow having an effect on a pupil’s thinking, i.e. how pupils direct themselves in movement? If teachers are affecting a pupil’s thinking, what is it they are manipulating?

6. Alexander typically equates sensory appreciation with feeling as in (p. 150) “…the sensory appreciation (feeling) is more or less imperfect….” In The Use of the Self (p. 92) he defines it as “…the knowledge which comes to us through the sensory mechanisms as to the manner of our use of ourselves.” What is the nature of this knowledge? What are our sensory mechanisms? Is our brain part of our sensory mechanisms? In what way does the data which comes from our hand, for example, become knowledge about the manner of the use of ourselves?

7. Alexander writes at length about mental attitudes and incorrect conception stating (p. 146) that “…conceptions which are mainly influenced by unreliable sensory appreciation, acting and reacting subconsciously and harmfully on the processes involved, are incorrect conceptions, and…in these cases unreliable sensory appreciation goes hand in hand with incorrect and deceptive experiences in the psycho-physical functioning.” If we accept the assertion that unless there is something organically wrong with our sense organs the data coming from them must be accurate, but that this data is misinterpreted, i.e. our appreciation of it is faulty, then is faulty sensory appreciation itself a wrong mental attitude or incorrect conception?