A response to the suggestion that, in these exceptional circumstances, online teaching could be a viable substitute for all or part of the hands-on training of teachers (that is, the practical 80% of the training); and that STAT should permit hours of training provided in this way to count in part or in full towards the minimum number of hours required to train as a teacher.
I realise that many HOTs are being placed in financial difficulty and at risk of losing students should the current situation persist, and some of our students will feel bereft. However, I think that it is important not to establish a precedent of including virtual teaching as part of an AT training, with the possible exception of some purely academic work, and the occasional masterclass.
I am not at all denying the experience of those HOTs who have done some effective work with their students over the past two weeks. However, I suspect that this has been successful principally in the context of very recent and intensive hands-on work, and may not continue to prove effective, and we ought anyway to have some reviewed evidence before undertaking such a dramatic departure from traditional methods of training.
In the end none of us successfully learned the Technique and how to teach it in the way that FM did. We all required the assistance of an absolutely tremendous amount of individual hands-on guidance to an experience of an improved Use of ourselves in order to begin to comprehend the principles to a level at which they could start to work for us reliably.
The essential nature of our work is hands-on, because it allows us to bypass a pupil's habitual way of thinking and guide them to a new experience. When we ask them to think without the benefit of our direct and individual guidance, we know that sooner or later (mostly sooner) they will go horribly wrong. FM came to this understanding himself (by all accounts reluctantly) because it was the only effective way to work with the great majority of people in the face of unreliable sensory appreciation, feeling (or even doing) rather than thinking, end gaining, the inadequacy of words to convey experience, etc. With the possible exception of students who are already very advanced, and have learned successfully to work on themselves, it seems to me that whatever benefits we may see in the short term in a virtual approach to teaching our students will almost certainly come up against these same problems soon enough.
To undermine our insistence on this principle in teaching the Technique for the sake of what may seem to be a temporary advantage would, in my view, be a serious error - both for the integrity of our work, and for the long term security of our profession.
With best wishes to you all in these challenging times,
Peter Bloch, 3 April 2020