Lessons in Democracy

May I invite you to kick off this fall’s LGBTQA Online Global Feldenkrais Festival with a celebration of Election Day in the US of A?

In an ordinary Awareness Through Movement lesson, the teacher dictates the content of the class. Taking a page from improvisational comedy, the students will select the theme and position — and “elect” the “leading” body part — this time around. Once the votes are in, I will then improvise the lesson based on the students’ choices.

I’m calling this coming Tuesday’s class A Lesson in Democracy: The Body Politic & Politics of the Body.

Before I say anything more, I’d like you to know that this isn’t just a one-off novelty. I have been disrupting the hierarchical educational system for as long as I can remember, a fact that teachers’ comments on grade school report cards attest to quite often. 

I’m still challenging the top-down nature of learning. For instance, I’m currently teaching a series called Moving from Your Center. Last term, the participants in my year-long program came up with a list of possible themes, and then they decided by popular vote which one I’d teach this term. Two-thirds of the students voted, which is pretty good, isn’t it? 

The upcoming Election Day experiment-in-democracy class is the first time I — and perhaps anyone — will bring a lesson to life decided up and determined by the student body on the fly. You can bet that I will be drawing on decades of teaching, and from what I learned about Moshe’s method and what it means to bring it to life in the moment, spontaneously and improvisationally. 

Because A Lesson in Democracy is open to anyone who wants to find out what it takes to improve how you move, I am also committed to creating something that works for experienced students and newcomers alike.

Should you decide to participate, you can expect a lesson in the martial arts of daily life, which is to say, an experience of how you’re meant to move with ease and effectiveness. You will explore discord and unity, conflict and coordination, and liberty and responsibility in a restorative, bodywise way, one that illuminates and improves how you live, in your body and in the world.

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

10:00 AM to noon US Eastern Time
(Including breaks)
To find out the time where you are, click here.

This workshop is open to all.
It is a free event – no tuition requested or required.

Enrollment is necessary, though.
Please click here to sign up.

And then, after a bit of a lunch break:

What Makes a Lesson
a Feldenkrais Lesson?

On composition and creativity

If what defines a lesson is that the founder taught it, then the method wouldn’t continue to grow and develop. That just wouldn’t fit how, throughout his life, Moshe never stopped refining lessons and coming up with new ones.

Moshe’s method is more than a collection of the lessons he gave and the classes he taught. What was the methodology underpinning the founder’s incredible creative output? 

We need to be able to answer that question if we are going to have any chance of knowing how to adapt his classes to our students and our times. Or if you want to modify the steps or sequence of steps in a lesson he once taught. Or compose entirely new ones.

How about this? Imagine, to encourage the development of the method, we establish a “Best ATM of the year” contest. 

Whether you think it is a spectacular idea or a horrendous proposal, can you consider this as a thought experiment?

I bring it up because, in this situation, a key question is: What would be the submission criteria? In other words, how would we know if an entry was, indeed, an Awareness Through Movement lesson and not yoga, mindful meditation, body awareness training, or any of several other somatic practices? 

It is not that the method doesn’t share attributes with other approaches. That is part of what makes it a vexing question. 

The judges — be they Feldenkrais trainees, teachers, tutor teachers, assistant trainers, trainers, other professionals, or members of the public — would need to identify a Feldenkrais lesson as a unique kind of learning experience to know which entrees qualify for the competition.

Or you could also consider what it takes for teachers to adapt, moment-to-moment, and over time, a lesson to the needs of their students. 

How do you know your modifications are within the strategies and teaching tactics that define the Feldenkraisian approach? 

How do you know you’re making things better and not worse?

These are big questions. Would you like to join me in asking them out loud, taking them on explicitly, and considering what can guide us in keeping the method alive, rigorous, and continuing to develop?

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

12:45 to 3:00 PM Eastern time
(Including breaks)
To find out the time where you are, click here.

This professional program is sponsored by Regions of the Feldenkrais Guild of North America for Feldenkrais trainees and teachers. 

Enrollment is required. 

Please note that both events will be using the same link.
You need to register only once.

Okay, I’m not sure I’m supposed to say this about What Makes a Lesson a Feldenkrais Lesson? 

But . . . given the theme and all . . . just between us

There is no velvet rope, no closely guarded guest list, and I am pretty darn sure nobody will be checking IDs at the door. 

If you’re interested in attending, well, how about taking a few moments to thank your local (or non-local, this being the Internet age when you can work with someone on the other side of the planet) Feldenkrais teacher for being a member of their national Guild or Association.

If you haven’t found a Feldenkrais teacher to work with yet, I have only one question. What are you waiting for?

The support of SAGE LGBT Elder Centers, Regions of the Feldenkrais Guild of North America, and Frederick Schjang’s Online membership program makes the fall 2021 LGBTA Online Global Feldenkrais Festival, A Lesson in Democracy, and What Makes a Lesson a Feldenkrais Lesson possible. Thanks to our sponsors, there is no financial barrier to entry and anyone interested can attend. 

Your donations can help make it possible to offer this Festival and future ones for free. To contribute via GoFundMe, you only need to click here.

What if you can’t make it? 

Or you do, and then something comes up? 

Or if you get started or have a bit of a snooze?

Barring circumstances beyond our control, we plan to record the public class and teachers’ seminar. Once we have had a chance to brush them up a bit, we will upload the files — audio of the ATM lesson and most likely video of the second part — to the Mind in Motion Online website and add them to the MIM Online Library. 

You will need a MIMO account to access the recordings, but they are free and easy to obtain. Click here to get started.

If you would like us to let you know when the recordings are available, please fill in the form below:

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Responses

  1. Your ideas never cease to amaze me and stimulate my thinking, Larry. Thank you!
    I’ll try to make it on Tuesday, but I am a poll worker (inside the room) from 2 pm until the ballots are all counted and have to do all that other stuff in the morning, like take the dog for a nice long walk, before I go. So I appreciate that it will be recorded! Take care