Be disruptive: challenge the status quo like FM Alexander


Do you find you just accept things as they are, or are you a person who questions the status quo?

This week I have been reading Michael Bloch’s biography of FM Alexander. I was fascinated by Bloch’s description of FM as a child – an “attention-seeking” boy who was ‘excused’ from regular lessons at the tiny village school in rural Tasmania.


He was disruptive. He asked too many questions.

In 1946 Walter Carrington wrote down his recollections of FM talking about his schooldays:

F.M. said that they could never make anything of him at school. He used to dispute every statement that was held up for his belief. If they then referred him to a book, he would ask how the writer of the book knew it to be true. They used to send him up for thrashings but he still came back for more.”*

 In a school child, this was a disruptive and precocious trait. FM was extremely lucky to have a school master who was prepared to spend time teaching him one-to-one outside of normal school hours.

And we are lucky too, because it meant that FM’s innate questioning nature was not crushed. It was, in fact, exactly that predisposition not to let anything rest that characterised his explorations to create the work we call the Alexander Technique. He didn’t just blindly accept what the doctors said. He didn’t cave in and find a new job when it seemed as though his acting career was finished. And when his investigations into the causes of his vocal troubles were going badly, did FM give up? No!

We should learn from this. Too often we allow the easy answer to stop us from thinking. We accept the status quo. We label something as a ‘habit’ or ‘just the way things are’ and then assume that they are unchanging and unchangeable.

But we don’t know that – not until we ask. Not until we test our beliefs and our ideas.

What assumptions are there in your life? What can you question today?


* Walter Carrington quoted in Bloch, M., FM: The Life of Frederick Matthias Alexander, Hachette, 2004, p.18 in the Kindle edition.

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