I have found, as I’m sure many of you have, that being homebound due to COVID-19 has had a few pleasant upsides. My daughter Alex has been living with us during the quarantine, and as a Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner, she has been giving me Feldenkrais movement lessons, which I’ve realized have a lot to do with learning!
I’m discovering that the Feldenkrais Method® imparts wonderful principles that can help all of us who care about learning. I’ve invited Alex to share some of these principles here.
Lisa Toenniges, CEO of Innovative Learning Group
The Feldenkrais Method® is a unique approach that uses gentle, exploratory movement to rewire the brain, creating mindfulness and ease of movement in everyday activities. Developed in the 20th century by Israeli physicist and engineer Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, the method is based in an understanding of human learning and development. Dr. Feldenkrais made observations about the human brain and neuroplasticity that were decades ahead of his time. See how these principles can help you create a better experience for your learners!
Keys for Success – LESS IS MORE!
- Do Only What’s Easy: Having the learner do only what’s easy will allow him or her to understand with more clarity and discernment.
- Go Slowly: Going slowly will allow the brain to better absorb and integrate new information. Slowness is the key to awareness, and awareness is the key to learning. Speed will increase on its own with time.
- Start Small: You’re more interested in how learners do the process than how much they do. Starting small will allow for the most improvement, as differentiation is easiest when the stimulus is small. Have them start off small, and they’ll soon surpass your expectations.
- Look for the Pleasant Sensation: If it feels good, they’ll want to do it again! The brain is always looking for the easiest, most efficient way to do anything.
- Let Learners Make Mistakes: Errors are essential for learning. Think about how a baby learns to crawl, walk, or speak. Random, spontaneous ideas lead to developmental breakthroughs.
- Pause Often: Allow the brain a moment to take in new information. Beginning again with fresh attention will peak curiosity and allow for better learning. Let interest dictate the pace of learning.
- Reduce Unnecessary Effort: When learners use less effort, the improvement happens automatically rather than through force, and the process becomes more fluid and facile.
- Don’t Try: When learners are goal-oriented, they’re likely to use extra effort and get in their own way. The human brain learns best driven by curiosity rather than pressure.
- Use the Imagination: The learner’s brain fires in the same way when visualizing something as when he or she is actually doing it, and can sometimes even allow the learning to happen faster. Use this creatively!
- Be Gentle: It’s not helpful to ‘correct’ learners or create competition or deadlines. Allow them to be present, curious, and engaged with the process, and the improvement will happen on its own.
Here are two short videos that demonstrate what Feldenkrais is like and how and why we use movement to create learning and change in the brain.
Try the Feldenkrais Method® out for yourself and see how much of a difference it makes for you!
Alex Toenniges is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner, outdoor educator, and bassoonist. She graduated from a four-year Feldenkrais professional training program in 2019 and has been teaching Awareness Through Movement® since 2017. Alex has a master’s degree in Bassoon Performance and has taught Feldenkrais workshops for musicians and performers at universities throughout Indiana and Michigan. Alex works with musicians; seniors; people with pain, injuries, or trauma; and anyone looking to improve their quality of life.