MIMO Blog -Teacher or practitioner

Teacher or practitioner?

MIMO Blog - Teacher or Practitioner

Yesterday, I received an email from someone who has enrolled in my courses for the past couple of years. 

I should probably mention that my classes are not the first classes that this pupil has taken. After sharing one of Mary Newell’s recent verses in my Poetry Month post, I learned she had been one of my current student’s earliest Feldenkrais teachers many moons ago. I love how she told me that Mary “got us to instigate movement, see possibilities.” 

When she told me Mary’s approach was of such a high standard that she has since measured other teachers by how she taught Awareness Through Movement, I smiled. It brings me joy to hear good things about a colleague’s work. 

This student responded to my first blog of the week, The standing leg. I wrote about how the tendency to support ourselves unevenly can become so intense that it interferes with how we walk, stand, balance, and feel. I describe a postgrad program where I show colleagues how to help their students balance better on one leg and shift more easily from one side to the other.

She wrote:

I would like those lessons! Very much!
but I am not a “practitioner” in the jargon which is Feldenkrais,
only in real life.


In case you’re not familiar with Feldenkrais jargon, let me explain. 

For the longest time, saying ‘practitioner’ rather than ‘teacher’ was the default option. Then Feldenkrais Guild of North America learned Certified Financial Planners had registered the abbreviation CFP before we could claim the initials for Certified Feldenkrais Teacher. As a result, the official term has been ‘teacher’ for a while on this continent. Many colleagues still say they are Feldenkrais practitioners. 

(As you have heard, old habits die hard.)

Though I went along with the trend for a while, I was never a big fan of calling ourselves ‘practitioners.’ The way I see it, the folks who come to my classes are students. The last time I checked, this means I am a teacher.

A Feldenkrais lesson is not a pill to be taken once a week. Whether a group class or an individual session, it is the beginning of learning, not an end in and of itself. How you use what you learn in class is what matters. I aim to inspire students to become Feldenkrais practitioners, that is to say, people who practice the method in their lives.

The person I have been telling you about is just that kind of pupil. She practices the method in her life. I felt compelled to write this today because I felt sad when she put the word “only” in front of “in real life.” That’s what this method is about: taking what you learn into your life.

I created the illustration above from an image from the Letter to the Editor section of the Campbell Law Observer, which they, in turn, credited to Google. After modifying the picture with one program to make the diverging paths more visibly distinct, I used other software to make it look like a watercolor painting. Then I tweaked the saturation, highlights, density, shading, etc.

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  1. This is making me smile. A different take on the “practitioner” word might be “Feldenkrais is my daily practice,” which is something that we can wish for both teachers and students of the method. Thinking of it as a practice makes us all practitioners. ‘-)

  2. I love all your posts, but this one really resonated. I teach 4 classes a week and have a small, but ardent following. I share the Method with them, but it is their commitment, curiosity, and learning that has produced so much improvement in their lives and mine. They inspire me to keep exploring. As I wrote in my new year’s card to them:

    “The learning of the pupil, and not the teaching is the essence.”
    Moshe Feldenkrais

    1. Thank you, Madeline, for reminding us of the spot-on quote from Moshe.

      “The learning of the pupil, and not the teaching is the essence.”
      Moshe Feldenkrais


      And, yes, my students inspire me, too.