Peter Bloch

Dear Ted,

I had many lessons with Margaret Goldie, mostly during the 1980s.

I too had some experience of how harsh she could be with her pupils, although from what I both saw and heard, women generally received the worst of it.

At the time I thought, like you, that she was just telling me straight what I needed to know. However now, as an experienced teacher in my own right (of 30 years) I am inclined to agree with Walter Carrington's view that, since our work is principally to assist our pupils towards an experience of greater freedom and expansion, anything that causes them to stiffen and shorten should be avoided in almost any situation. And all the modern research on teaching and learning supports this approach.

One could say that she was an "old school" type of teacher, cruel to be kind. However, my observation was that at least some of her harshness was her response to her own frustrations in achieving the desired effect in her pupils. To say this is not take away from her many obvious qualities and, indeed, charms.

Regarding Miss Goldie's view of training courses for teachers, I have an interesting story: after several years of lessons, I was offered a place at the Carrington's training course in London in 1984. I was very excited about this and, at my next lesson with Miss Goldie, I told her that I would be starting my training within weeks. There was a long silence and eventually I plucked up the courage to say; "Do you not think that I would be able to become a worthwhile teacher?" "It's not that", she said, "no one but Mr Alexander is qualified to train people to teach his Technique". "But", I replied, "surely Walter Carrington is qualified?" (see note below*) "He surely wouldn't offer to train teachers if he thought he couldn't do it...why would he do that?" Another pause, longer still, and she said in the lightest and most ironic tone that she could muster, "ego"!

Miss Goldie had been Alexander's most loyal champion during his lifetime and it seemed to me that she was generally not pleased with the authenticity of his legacy as reflected in the work of newer teachers.

*Margaret Goldie was well aware that Walter had assisted Alexander on his training course from 1945 to 1955 and had, by all accounts, been the lead teacher on the course, with Alexander himself coming in with less and less frequency in his final years. I heard this myself from Peggy Williams, Tony Spawforth and Goddard Binkley, all of whom were students during this period. And Marjorie Barlow wrote that the fact that Walter, who had trained later that they had, was actually running Alexander's training course was the reason that she and Bill felt it perfectly reasonable to start their own training course at that time.

Peter Bloch

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