AIFTT Program Curriculum
"By my body's action, teach my mind."
"What I'm after isn't flexible bodies, but flexible brains. What I'm after is to restore each person to their human dignity."
The first year of the program presents the basic tenets of the method. The faculty introduces the method through Moshe Feldenkrais’ life and work. Building on these historical foundations, the AIFTT develops the conceptual and observational tools needed to understand the method.
Trainees are immersed in Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lessons. We begin with the classic ATMs that Dr. Feldenkrais taught over and over in his public presentations. We then move to the movements of babies and toddlers, exploring the roots of how coordination and dexterity arise, and giving trainees a first-person appreciation of the underlying processes. ATM lessons also bring fundamental ideas—from anatomy, kinesiology, biomechanics, neurophysiology, and learning theory—to life and demonstrate their relevance to practicing the method.
Working in interactive small group exercises, trainees develop their ability to listen with their ears, eyes and hands. Expanding their appreciation for how others move and sense themselves develops a growing appreciation for how we experience our physicality and express it. Observing oneself and the others in the program creates a foundation for observing movement and understanding the mover. This process of observation is, in turn, the basis for becoming an observant “movement detective.”
From the start of the AIFTT, trainees begin to learn the tactics and techniques of Functional Integration (FI) lessons. The faculty introduce basic skills hands-on work with an emphasis on developing the art of making contact. Exercises emphasize developing tactile sensitivity, working with awareness through touch, learning skeletal anatomy experientially, and understanding the principles of movement.
Learning to give Functional Integration (FI) lessons is not separated from learning to teach ATM. Trainees explore the relationship between ATM and FI, learning to teach the same "lesson" both ways: verbally and tactilely. In order to foster real understanding and move beyond simply following “recipes,” the lesson themes are developed from different perspectives. The emphasis is not on learning to move others, but on developing awareness of, and skill in, moving oneself to move the student. Much of the hands-on work is introduced through guided work in pairs and small groups, providing each trainee the support and supervision needed to learn to move safely and efficiently while working with others.
In the second year, trainees begin to develop an understanding of the grammar and syntax of ATM lessons. Developing a basic ATM repertoire, the faculty examines a number of classic ATMs in depth. Elaborating and building on the lessons from the first year, we indentify on what constitutes a lesson and examine the structures of different lessons. Preparing to teach ATM to the public at the end of the second year, trainees work on giving instructions, planning and promoting a class, and relating lessons to the activities of daily life. Trainees are supervised teaching lessons in class by faculty members.
By simultaneously cultivating hands-on and verbal teaching skills from the beginning the program, we de-emphasize what has historically been a difficult transition between learning to teach ATM and learning to give FIs.
The program continues to clarify and build up movement observation and hands-on skills in a step-by-step fashion. So that they do not simply mimic what is demonstrated, trainees participate in active problem-solving situations, such as translating from ATMs to FIs or creating alternative approaches to do things they already know how to do. The trainees learn the logic and strategy of lessons from the inside-out, fostering a growing intuitive appreciation of educational strategy.
Knowing that it takes time to become a compelling ATM teacher, the program continues to foster the skillful teaching of ATM in the third year (and the fourth year, too). As trainees begin to teach ATM outside the program, the faculty delves deeper into the structure of lessons and the composition of series. More complex and challenging ATM lessons are taught. Trainees work on improving their presentation skills and developing an understanding of curriculum design. To provide an intermediary step between practicing teaching with friends and offering regular classes (and to provide a means for promoting their new profession), trainees participate in an externship program in which they offer a free ATM class or workshop to the public and receive (written) feedback.
Trainees supervise each other giving FI lessons to other trainees in the third year. To create a safe environment for exploration and learning, the educational director works closely with each trainee, identifying gaps in skills and understanding, and developing specific, personalized solutions.
In the final year, in both group lessons and hands-on work the faculty introduces more unusual and challenging positions and situations. Trainees continue to refine and broaden their skills in all aspects of the work. As the trainees develop their understanding of what constitutes a lesson and of how the learning process works, the faculty pays special attention to each person’s ability to articulate and present the work. To provide as much individualized feedback and attention as possible in the final year, trainees work closely with their peers and faculty. Trainees are supervised by the faculty as they give lessons to people from the general public and also are given support in setting up their practices.