Feedback and Suggestions

Tell us what you have liked or would like from a Congress.
E-mail JMOFischer with your suggestions and/or experiences of previous Congresses. Write "feedback" in the subject line. Please sign as you wish your name to appear on this page.

The following comments relates to the 2004 Oxford Congress:
Dear Jean, Lucia, Peter, and all my fellow helpers,
Thank you all for your focus, fortitude, and generosity.
I experienced the 7th Congress as a heavenly chaos, a pool of activity that I dived into each morning the moment I walked through the doors of the examination schools. Never have I had such a wonderful panoply of daily problem solving presented to me!

So far I have one idea for how to improve the next congress. Perhaps this has been tried at other congresses? My suggestion is based on my observation of my self and some of my friends: I got a rather stiff back after a couple of days of sitting in chairs and listening to various lectures and presentations. O well. I didn't always choose participatory workshops, and even if I did I wanted to participate in whatever the teacher was focusing on, which was not always what my body was wanting. The only solution I could find was to get up an hour early and do some movement work in my dorm room before entering the daily chaos. This made me more available for learning during the day. There must have been others doing the same; so why not do it together?

I would love to have, at the next congress, the choice of doing a daily morning movement workshop (could be anything, of course with an AT focus: yoga, tai chi, developmental movement, whatever) before the "official" workshops begin. I know this will take time, but there are many brilliant movement masters, dancers, and yogis among us , and from my conversations with people it seems to me that there would be enough interest in teaching/participating to make it happen.
Hoping I am not the only one!
warm regards, Clare Maxwell, 18 September 2004

Dear Peter and all,
Firstly, many, many thanks for organizing such a huge event so successfully.As you have asked for feedback about the Oxford Congress here is my list of highlights and disappointments. The highlights were:

* The Congress location, in the colleges in Oxford....could not have been better.

* The guest speakers. All were extremely interesting, inspiring and fun!

* The ability to share work...every day in such wonderful, bright, large rooms.

* The friendly atmosphere and assistance given to participants and presenters.

* The whole organization from room tags to workshops running on time...amazing! Thank you.

* The accordion player and dancing...before the band came on... (the band was fun too).

And for me, a special highlight was the presentation by Prof. Lucy Brown. Though not an Alexander teacher, Lucy spoke so clearly and enthusiastically not only about her complex research on brain function & AT, but also how she works on herself with Alexander's directions. Several times Lucy spoke not only of the importance of applying inhibition & direction in her busy daily life, but she also demonstrated in her presentation the ability to be stop, to be quiet and think the directions, returning to her presentation effortlessly. In so doing she held our attention without trying, and was truly an inspiration of how F.M's work is to be incorporating into the act of living.

I hope I'm not being a, Tasmanian Devil here however. The disappointments were:

* That no mention of our great teacher F.M. Alexander or his work were made in the closing remarks.

* That out of the nine w'hops I attended only two presenters incorporated F.M's methodology of inhibition & direction in their presentation.

* That in the two Voice w'shops I attended, again, no mention was made of applying Alexander's principle to the act of speaking and or breathing.

* That allotted rooms for presentations were changed without verbal notification. So much time was wasted walking to a location only to find out that the presentation was elsewhere.

* That the F.M.'s unique teaching methodology, as outlined in his four books was not more apparent or incorporated...creatively in many of the presentations.

Again, thank you all for all the hard work.
Kind regards, Diana Devitt-Dawson. 15 September 2004.

Impressions of Oxford Congress
I thought this Congress was a considerable achievement on the part of the organisers, especially considering the number of teachers attending and the number of presentations. Since we have been asked for comments and suggestions as to how future congresses might be improved, here are a few thoughts.

1. Space
Could there be somewhere some places where people could meet and talk quietly? It is such a joy to see colleagues one may not have met for years, and frustrating when there is too little opportunity for serious conversation and discussion. A crowded dining-room, however cheerful, is not an adequate solution.

2. Time
Time should be allowed for such meetings. It is such a pity if one always feels in a hurry to get to the next presentation – or the next meal. People don't need to be kept entertained continually.

3. Books
Both at Oxford and at Freiburg, I heard many bitter complaints that there was not enough opportunity to examine at leisure the books that were on offer. Perhaps, at future congresses, somebody could be paid to keep the bookshop open all day, and perhaps in the evening, too? With a bit more time between the various happenings, and with more space around the stalls, this could be an important part of the success of a congress.

4. Audibility
This was a huge problem – which is odd when one thinks of Alexander's achievements in public speaking! I suggest

a. that all Alexander teachers should make a serious attempt to study voice production and
b. that all future congress lecturers should have the opportunity to test themselves in the acoustic of the space they will be using. It should be a matter of politeness to speak so that one can be understood by those for whom English is not the first language. I heard many complaints about this difficulty.
c. Microphones
The use of different types of microphone needs to be studied. It is a common mistake to hold the mike too near to the mouth, which results in distortion. Speakers need to know that microphones do NOT absolve anyone from enunciating carefully. A very loud voice does not necessarily solve the problems either. What counts most of all is

- the willingness to speak more slowly than seems right to oneself,
- giving enough time for a thought to sink in,
- not skimping the small, "unimportant" syllables, and
- not letting ones voice tail off towards the end of a sentence.

d. Use of sound equipment
Testing of equipment should be done in advance, and not while a lecturer is speaking! (The only time I could not hear Walter Carrington, with or without amplification, was when sound engineers insisted on causing distractions.)

5. Congress Papers
I do sincerely hope that all presentations will be fully reported in the Congress Papers. For reasons given above, many presentations, to which I had been looking forward with eagerness, were impossible to understand properly. I am sure that many people will be glad of a chance to read them quietly.
Elizabeth Langford, 9 September 2004

A Congress 'diary' by Preston Palon can be found on
8 September 2004
Dear Congress-Directors!
I enjoyed very much the spirit, style and raising quality of the Oxford Congress 2004. I get a silent but remarkable support from all the beautiful flowers all around our workplaces! Thank your again for that wonderful detail - a symbol of harmony, beauty and growth. All the guest-lectures I remember as a serious and profound instigation to prevent scientific isolation! The workshops which I attended, met very much my expectations, professionally as well as formal/presentation (in most cases). I welcome even in future the opportunity to present workshops on different professional level - I believe, that raises the standards continuously. So I am looking very much forward the next congress and address a few suggestions which might be developed for the benefits of all of us. The subjects are: 1) Scientific Approach, 2) Presentation Equipment, 3) Contact-Adresses of Lecturers, 4) Congress Facilities, 5) Poster Presentation and Poster-Sessions.
1) Scientific Approach I welcome very much the enterprise of Judy Stern, to convene the neuroscience panel. To foster this idea I suggest: a) to integrate that element as a permanent event in the construction / shape of further congresses. b) establishing an open forum to exchange ideas, results, project-reports and news on the website: I would welcome very much, if this forum would work even in the time between the congresses. c) developing the panel-presentation into a more academic style: - shorten the contributes 5 - 10 min. - short public discussion at lest after each third talk - supply the audience with handouts. d) adding a philosophical (epistemological, psychological, educational) panel.
2) Presentation Equipment better sound and better pictures (more professional presentation-equipment)
3) Contact-Addresses of Lecturers insert addresses of the lecturers and workshop-presenters (even e-mail) into the congress-programme, biographies.
4) Congress Facilities - congress-office - café - bookshop - internet-room - video-room located near by each other and permanent open (for instance: 8:30 am-6:30 pm)
5) Poster Presentation and Poster-Sessions Please continue the poster-idea and set out more detailed procedures and clear regulations for the presenters (regarding place, time and format). Time is important, to ensure that the presenter is available for the visitors (for instance: Tuesdays and Thursday 11:30 pm - 12:30 pm or 5:00 pm-6:00pm) Format: should follow the common academic rules. Place next to work-exchange-groups seemed suitable, alternative: near Congress Facilities (4). Content: take care, to distinguish between presentation (Stallibrass) and advertisement (Summer workshop Virginia). Subjects poster-presentations (for instance) - AT - neuroscience - health-care - education - advertisements If support is welcome, I am ready to take responsibility for the poster-session/presentation for the next congress. Thank you again for your attention and your contribute to the development of that cultured and professional event.
Kind regards Alexander Bartmann, 2 September 2004

Thank you Jean, Lucia, and Peter for a wonderful Congress. It was so stimulating being surrounded by so many teachers. You did a really good job in organizing such a complicated event. Just a few suggestions for the future: it would be good to have some kind of childcare as this would make it much easier for teachers with young children to attend; it would be helpful if teachers in the same household could share a ticket or at least publicize well in advance that one day tickets are available;also the more reasonably priced communal accomodation available the better. Obviously it would be hard for 700 people to all eat together and sleep in the same building but it would be better not to let things get too fragmented. Anyhow thanks again. It was a great occasion.
David Howlett. 31 August 2004

Dear Jean, I would just like to express my very grateful thanks and congratulations to you, Peter and Lucia, for a superbly organised Congress. I thought that the lectures in the Town Hall were outstanding - I'm not sure whether it would be possible to e-mail any of their presentations but it would be of great value to me - and the Workshops were excellent. And it was so good to meet so many teachers from all over the world in the Work Exchange periods. Many thanks again, Best wishes and see you soon,
Mary, 31 August 2004

Dear Peter, Lucia and Jean, (and all the helpers)
Congratulations are not enough to express how impressed I am with your work for our Congress. What a tremendous job to organise so many people, workshops and requests! I could only observe you all in action, practicing inhibition and remaining open to possibilities of things working out amidst the pressures of keeping all parties happy. In future I would like to see a better accommodation of sellers as a fee of £100 per day to trade is robbery. My only other suggestion is to work with all people/organisations who want to support the congress concept in future. Turning away offers for assistance, in any form, is surely a mistake in our small world community. Best regards to you all,
Paul Cook. Editor/Publisher: DIRECTION Journal. 31 August 2004
Thank you all, who have been organizing this enormous congress I enjoyed so very much. I don´t know, if ever before in my life I met so many charming, caring, interesting and friendly people at one place in a few days. Thank you all, who I had the pleasure to meet , to talk to, to work with, to learn from, to share experiences, meals and smiles :-))
The large amount of opportunities was amazing and I managed to work out a very fullfilling and enrichening programm for myself, lots of things of course I will have to work on further on, and which will still occupy me in the future.
One question occured to me, as I felt sorry, that many workshops seemed too short for me, - many subjects could only be scratched on the surface. Where it possible for the next congress, to offer workshops that continue maybe a whole day, or one term per day through several days? Subjects could be deepened, and one would have the opportunity to work and think together with the same people for a longer time, and so come into a better contact with both subject and participants. I´d appreciate this very much.
I am very much looking forward to the next congress in Switzerland where I hope to meet everyone I met in Oxford again! Till then, I send my love into the future,
Christiane Hasselmeier, Stuttgart, 30 August 2004
Hallo Jean,
wishing to thank you, Lucia and Peter for the remarkable amount of work you all did -- which led to a most enjoyable, fulfilling and inspiring Congress for me. I know a multitude of colleagues felt the same.
I have been trying to work out why I found the week so special.
Of course, part of it is the implicit further training that a Congress means. But I also found the freedom-to-make-up-your own-Congress design very clever. The multitude of workshops on offer meant we had a wide choice. This process of choosing was not easy, and if I may voice a little critism, I think you over-estimated our ability to work out how to do it.
A short guide of how to put it together would have been helpful. I only sussed it out by reading it about 7 times ... (perhaps I'm a bit thick.)
Now that we are growing up as a community (maturing and competing less!), and the first generation teachers are no longer the dominating and focusing instance during such a week, I feel that we have realised what great respnsibility we have in keeping the Work to principle. Within this process, I found it beneficial to have got rid of the hierarchy of "Master classes" and "Senior teachers" Don't get me wrong - I have utmost respect fot the first and second generation teachers - I just wanted to say, for me at least, that the absence of this use of words was, I think is good for us.
On a very serious note I wish to encourage future Congress directors to ensure (how this is possible I have no idea) that more presenters speak slowly and clearly. There were too many frustrated participants who were not getting value for money because too many presenters could not consciously direct the speed of their talking.
Tears streamed down my face during the closing ceremony as Elisbath Walker, Walter Carrington and Marjory Barlow listened to the spontaneous Happy Birthday that the 700 delegates sung for them.
I was moved and touched, knowing very well that I would never see our "Alexander parents" together again like this.
Just for this one special moment of honouring - a moment of deep emotion and being connected to the past - was it worth the journey to beautiful Oxford. Wishing all 3 of you lots of time to recharge your batteries after the huge amount of work.
Nicola Hanefeld, 23 August 2004
Just to say thank you all so much and well done on a magnificent feat of organisation - fantastic guidance and control with a light touch! I had a wonderful week, as did everybody else I spoke to. Special acclaim for the admin and workshop set-up staff, who remained wonderfully helpful and patient with a very difficult job to do.
Some comments:
The balance of having both workshops and work exchange morning and afternoon was great - and with the option of attending extra workshops if places were available, it gave lots of choice to organise one's time and energy to suit. The only problem was when people attended workshops they hadn't signed up for so that they were sometimes unpleasantly overcrowded. I'm not sure what could be done about that apart from taking names, or asking people to be more considerate and wait to see if there was space!
I'd have liked to see more workshops on issues for new or new-ish teachers ( I didn't get into the one that there was). I realise that organisers don't control the topics but it's something to think about next time.
Congratulations and thanks to all.
Anonymous. August 23rd, 2004.
This will be my first congress and I am really looking forward to it. I recently moved and am waiting for my schedule of classes/workshops and sign-up sheet. I think it would be a great idea to have the option of e-mailing our choices. The information on the workshops and classes is available through the congress website, and it would make signing up faster. I thought of this only because I am concerned that I won't get my sign-up sheet back in time. Thank you,
Evelyn Hess, July 15th, 2004

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