Posture Training and Discipline

Posture training, in which teachers are taught to correct their children’s manner of sitting, is considered a “traditional” approach to education.

A classic example of the importance of learning the self-discipline of posture training is described in a Master’s thesis by Ann Matthews, entitled Implications for Education in the Work of F. M. Alexander. (The “Alexander Technique” is a famous approach to good posture.) Matthews worked with teachers and students in a school in New York State. She wrote the following:

“A teacher calls her six- and seven-year-olds to gather around her on the floor and listen to a story. Most sit cross-legged with their spines collapsed into a curve and their heads pulled back onto their necks as they look up at the teacher. One boy is kneeling close to the teacher, back beautifully aligned, head balancing on the top. ‘Thomas, you are blocking the people behind you,’ says the teacher in a reproachful tone. ‘Sit down so they can see the pictures.’ The child sits down obediently and collapses like the others around him. The teacher does not realize that she had required the child to go from a poised, balanced, alert position to one that is cramped and distorted.”

To see how important good posture is, just for a moment extend your sternum. By extending your breast plate, you automatically sit up straight and your head positions itself on the top of your head (rather than being extended forward and out from your body), and your back recovers the natural “S” curve in your lower spine. Because of your now correct posture, your lungs expand, bringing in more air to your body and brain. You become more efficient.

If teachers were taught the discipline of modeling good posture themselves, they would have a better chance having their students imitate them and become more efficient in their learning. The “Alexander Technique” is an excellent reference from which to start.