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School Curriculum

All course content is built into the daily class schedule. Most topics are not addressed in blocks, rather the information is spread out and revisited over the three year program, with the exception of the anatomy and neuroscience subjects. Ted Dimon has written down his curriculum into several separate books, which have become important supporting texts to the classwork.


Although the course curriculum covers a wide range of scientific subjects, the knowledge embodied in it can be understood only through applied work and experience. Accordingly, a large portion of the curriculum is focused on attention to the self, and on a new philosophical approach based on attention to the self as the foundation for all activity. These experiential activities include one-on-one instruction from the faculty, group work, guided activities, and working on one’s own. Activities also include vocal and breathing work and the study of developmental movement. Experiential coursework at the school includes the following areas of study:

Required Reading for all experiential subjects:

  • Neurodynamics: The Art of Mindfulness in Action, by Ted Dimon

  • The Use of the Self, by F. Matthias Alexander

  • The Use of the Hands in Teaching, by Ted Dimon

  • Developmental Movement, by Ted Dimon

  • Breathing and the Voice: A Practical Guide to the Whispered “Ah,” by Ted Dimon

One-on-one teacher supervision
The postural neuromuscular reflex system (PNR system) refers to the automatic working of the musculoskeletal system, based on elastic muscle length, reflex activity of the nervous system, and the head/trunk relationship as the basic organizing principle of vertebrate movement in space. First articulated by F. Matthias Alexander, and dubbed by him "the primary control," it is a unique and mostly unrecognized discovery in human function. When working properly, this system ensures effortless muscular support against gravity as the background against which all action takes place. In most people, this system has been compromised by harmful habits and cannot work properly without guidance and help from a skilled teacher. In the first year of the course, and indeed throughout the course, a great deal of personal attention will be aimed at restoring the working of this system, leading to improved muscle tone, balance, and postural support. The changes that occur during this process can often be quite dramatic and are the single most important part of the process of learning. The Alexander Technique was developed specifically as a way to address distortions in the postural mechanism and to restore its full function.
Physical awareness and “direction”
Each of us possesses a personal biofeedback system that makes it possible to influence muscle tone, to release chronic tension, and to bring about an improved working of the PNR system. In the first year, a great deal of attention will be devoted toward learning how to use this personal biofeedback system to notice harmful tension and to restore this system, first with the teacher’s guidance and eventually without help from the teacher. This makes it possible to bring about beneficial changes in oneself, to maintain an improved working of the PNR system, and to become increasingly aware of what we are doing during daily activity.
The study of “positions of mechanical advantage”
Although it is possible to influence muscle tone simply by “thinking” kinesthetically, an essential component of restoring the PNR system is to provide the support for the musculoskeletal system, beginning with a semi-supine position and progressing to more active positions. Like learning a karate kata or form, mastering these positions greatly benefits the student in learning the principles of kinesthetic awareness and control. Some time each week will be devoted to utilizing this and other positions as a way of learning to “direct” in action.
Guided activities - the beginning of the study of action
Every week, time will be devoted toward observation and exploration of particular movements such as walking, using the arms, and vocalizing. Paying attention to a simple activity such as walking is much more than body mechanics or kinesthetic awareness but is based on an understanding of the ability to perform actions effortlessly based on the natural working of the PNR system. Time will be spent analyzing these actions in order to understand the body’s function and design, and in order to learn to prevent the unwanted actions and tensions that interfere with this design.
Developmental movement
Human upright posture is the most complex movement system in the animal kingdom and evolved sequentially from earlier and more primitive forms of movement. Studying these developmental movements makes it possible to effect improvements in the working of the muscular system, to gain insight into how to move more efficiently, and to progress from more basic to more advanced forms of balance and support. Various stages of movement will be explored, from the earliest total body patterns, crawling and creeping, to anthropoid and human movement.
Recommended Reading:

  • Skill and Poise, by Ramond Dart

  • The Evolution of Movement, by Robin Simmons

The “means-whereby” principle
Learning to think “kinesthetically” as the basis for an improved use of the self is a fundamental principle of neurodynamics. To change harmful habits of use, the student must learn to prevent his or her habitual way of performing actions by stopping, by learning to break actions down into steps, and by paying attention to how an act is performed rather than focusing on the goal. This form of “thinking-in-activity,” as John Dewey called it, makes it possible to bring about fundamental changes in the use of the self, and to become increasingly aware of harmful habits that interfere with the system in specific activities.
Required reading:

  • Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual, by F. Matthias Alexander

Mindfulness in action
Learning to be mindful during activity is one of the most difficult--as well as one of the most advanced--elements of neurodynamics. In the early stages of learning, the student focuses mainly on physical actions, learning to perform them more carefully and efficiently. As the student progresses, however, he or she realizes that the process of using the musculoskeletal system more efficiently is not just a matter of being kinesthetically aware but of learning the art of mindfulness. This art includes an awareness of what is going on around us but is based on an inward attention to the balanced working of mind and body. During the training, we will periodically examine what attention is, explore how to maintain attention, and gain insight into the process of learning to be attentive as a fundamental discipline in living.



The Science of Neurodynamics
In this course we will look at the basic neuroscience underlying neurodynamics: how the human neuromuscular system can be brought under greater conscious control by describing, first, how the muscular system works in action; second, how it becomes misdirected and imbalanced and can be brought into greater balance; and third, how this system can be brought under control by understanding the question of muscle function, proprioception, and increased consciousness.

Beyond covering relevant aspects of current neuroscience, the seminar will present a new scientific and theoretical view of the use of the self—the culmination of Ted Dimon’s many years of study in anatomy, neuroscience, psychology, and education—including the design and working of the “PNR” system, new and critical elements of muscle physiology that are central to neurodynamics, and what is meant by mind/body unity and conscious control. Other topics covered will include inhibition, ideomotor action, the special role of neck reflexes, antagonistic action, the autonomic nervous system, stretch reflexes, and more.
Required reading:

  • Neurodynamics: The Art of Mindfulness in Action, by Ted Dimon

Awareness: Articulating a New Dimension in Education
What is awareness, and why is it good to be aware? Many of us practice forms of awareness designed to help us to notice tensions and to reduce stress, to become aware of our reactions, and to promote general health and well-being. But what exactly are we doing when we practice awareness, and how is this different than being generally aware? Many philosophers have maintained that we are capable of higher levels of awareness, but what do they mean by this, why do we need to be more aware, and is it something worthy of striving for? Many religious traditions utilize mindfulness practices as a way of achieving a higher level of awareness, but
precisely because we inherit these practices as part of a tradition, we are often unclear about what mindfulness is, why we are doing it, and how it fits into educational practice as a whole.

In this course, we examine awareness in its broader context by understanding, first, what it is, how it relates to mindfulness, and what we mean by higher levels of awareness. Second, the course will examine why awareness is not a thing apart but exists on a continuum with other faculties such as thinking and deliberation. Finally, the course will also examine how, as a way of becoming more conscious of one’s thoughts and actions, awareness can function as a legitimate educational aim, how it can be developed throughout the lifespan, and how it applies to such diverse areas of education as health and child development. In this course, we will explore a variety of topics including kinesthetic awareness, attention, and behavior. We will also discuss mindfulness in its practical application to everyday conduct including speaking and thinking.
Required Reading:

  • The Awareness Principle, by Ted Dimon (manuscript version available)

Basic Musculoskeletal Anatomy
Basic musculoskeletal anatomy is presented as a way of introducing students to traditional anatomy—the location of particular bones, muscles and related structures. Familiarity with basic anatomy helps the student develop professional confidence; provides the student with a vocabulary that makes it possible to communicate with other professionals; and most importantly, provides the groundwork for acquiring further knowledge and skills. 
Musculoskeletal anatomy includes: bones; origins and attachments of muscles and related actions; joints, major ligaments, and actions at joints; discussion of major functional structures such as the pelvis, shoulder girdle, ankle, and hand; terminology and etymology of anatomical terms; major landmarks and human topography; and structures relating to breathing and vocalization.
Required Readings:

  • Anatomy of the Moving Body, by Ted Dimon

Recommended Readings:

  • The Thinking Body, by Mabel Todd

  • Anatomy Trains: Mayofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists, by Thomas Myers

Functional Anatomy
In this course, anatomy is presented from a functional perspective—that is, how we are designed to move and function. Understanding our anatomical design is one of the most exciting aspects of learning Neurodynamics and provides unique insight into the body and how it works. The lectures are specifically designed to present functional anatomy from the practical perspective of learning to increase one’s awareness and control, as well as to acquire the knowledge necessary to teaching professionally. The course covers basic comparative anatomy of the human upright design, major anatomical systems such as the extensors, the flexors, the spine, the shoulder girdle and upper limb, the pelvic girdle and lower limb, the spiral musculature, and breathing and voice.
Required Readings:

  • The Body in Motion, by Ted Dimon

Vocal Anatomy and Physiology
The human voice is a marvel of engineering and design. This course explores the remarkably subtle and intricate design of the human voice and how it serves as an instrument of expression. The course will cover the anatomy and mechanics of breathing, the design and function of the larynx, the suspensory mechanism of the throat, support, registers, muscles of the throat, vocal placement, and the relation of the voice to posture and overall coordination.
Required Readings:

  • Anatomy of the Voice, by Ted Dimon

Vocal Training and Pedagogy
This course will examine practical issues of vocal training and performance. The course will examine the role of listening in coordinating the voice: vocalizing and the role of the "ear”; placement and listening; placement and the larynx; the role of facial muscles and practical techniques for activating these muscles; opening the throat; the role of inhibition in speaking and vocalizing, and learning to listen to the voice.
The course will pay special attention to the "whispered 'ah’” as a central element in learning to use the voice in a coordinated way. The "whispered 'ah’” will be taught systematically and sequentially over the term by breaking it down into its component
parts, beginning with performing the "whispered 'ah,’” looking at how it provides the
basis for understanding vocal support, and finally examining how to produce sound.
Required Readings:

  • Your Body, Your Voice, by Ted Dimon

  • Breathing and the Voice: A Practical Guide to the Whispered “Ah,” by Ted Dimon

Neuroscience and Movement
This course explores neuroscience as it relates to movement and postural neuromuscular reflex system (PNR system) which governs the function of the musculoskeletal system. Topics include an overview of the brain, spinal cord, cranial nerves, parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, stretch reflexes, and the various motor, sensory and proprioceptive systems.
Required Readings:

  • The Neuroscience of Movement, (talks), by Ted Dimon

Recommended Readings:

  • Principles of Neural Science, by Eric Kandel

The Elements of Skilled Performance
This course explores skilled performance and the elements required to develop mastery. Discussions include: the importance of breaking skills down into manageable elements, the role of habit in skilled performance, the central role of the self in performing, the physiology of skill, the receptive elements in skill, problems of tension in performance, performance anxiety, the role of thinking, and the role of non-doing in skilled performance.
Required Readings:

  • The Elements of Skill, by Ted Dimon

The Pedagogy of Skilled Performance
This course examines practical issues in teaching performers. Topics will include: how to address basic learning problems; tension in performance; the role of habit in skilled performance. The course will pay special attention to working with children with learning problems, how to teach performers, and how to observe and identify problems in performance.
Mind/Body Unity in Relation to Education and Health
In our current educational system we are taught how to use our minds through study and how to use our bodies through physical activity. But all activity, whether ‘mental’ or ‘physical’, is performed by means of a total psychophysical system, and little or no attention is given to educating ourselves in the working of this system as a unified whole. This course will define what is meant by psychophysical education in contrast to other ‘mind/body’ methods, and show how this subject can be applied in the classroom. Part lecture-based and part experiential, the course will explore a variety of topics including kinesthetic awareness, learning, skill and performance, the control of habit, mind/body integration, holistic health, and mindfulness.
Required Readings:

  • A New Model of Man’s Conscious Development, by Ted Dimon

Recommended Readings:

  • Human Nature and Conduct, by John Dewey

  • Talks to Teachers on Psychology, by William James

  • Man’s Supreme Inheritance, by F. Matthias Alexander

Prevention and Health
The course will examine problems of tension and stress from an educational perspective. The course will examine the role of "use” in causing specific physical problems; the fallacy of corrective exercise and relaxation techniques; the limitations of medical diagnosis and the medical model in understanding and treating tension and stress; the fight-flight theory of stress and the limitations of stress-reduction techniques; faulty action and the need for prevention in activity;  medical diagnosis and the problem of defining a psychophysical standard of health; empirical criteria and the need for a positive concept of health.
Required Readings:

  • The Control of Tension and Stress, by Ted Dimon

The Use of the Hands in Teaching
The ability to convey kinesthetic experience with the hands is the special craft on which teaching Neurodynamics is based. To learn this craft, students take part in apprenticeship-style groups in which they are supervised through a step-by-step program that progresses sequentially over the three-year training program, establishing a foundation of basic techniques from which more advanced skills can develop. Based on these procedures, students learn the practical and highly refined hands-on skills necessary to teaching Neurodynamics, which they will then be qualified to apply in various professional settings.
Required Readings:

  • The Use of the Hands in Teaching, by Ted Dimon

Practicums in Teaching and Pedagogy: (taught primarily in the 2nd and 3rd years of training)
Although skill in using the hands is the special craft on which teaching neurodynamics is based, teaching in general requires additional skills, including the ability to communicate verbally, to convey difficult concepts, knowledge of the subject, and the ability manage interpersonal situations. In the teaching practicums, these topics are covered in depth, giving the student crucial tools for developing a successful teaching practice and for applying the knowledge in professional settings. 
1. Practical teaching methods
2. Ethics and professional conduct
3. Starting and maintaining a teaching practice

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