Category Archives: International Feldenkrais Federation

Roots of the Feldenkrais Trainer Monopoly

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Animal Farm by George Orwell.

From the SRC 2009 Report:

“Since 1992, we [the International Feldenkrais Federation] have a “bottom-up”, democratically organized professional umbrella association in the IFF. Parallel to it, we have an older TAB [Training and Accreditation Board] structure with roots in the group of trainers who initiated it.

What does the SRC committee mean by “an older TAB structure with roots in the group of trainers how initiated it.” Sounds like a sentence from someone trying to be politically correct, doesn’t it? That won’t do.

David Bersin on The Trainer Monopoly

Let’s read the opinion of David Bersin. Get your barf bag ready.

“Please allow me [David Bersin] to bring to the foreground some facts…The TAB’s are three committees which are mandated to oversee the governance or regulation of Feldenkrais professional training programs, the teachers who teach in these programs, and the process by which Feldenkrais Practitioners become eligible to teach in programs, as Assistant Trainers and Trainers. The TAB’s are also responsible for the creation and evaluation of the policies which concern these domains. Functionally, the TAB’s are already committees of the Australian Guild, the North American Guild, and the European Guild organizations, and all policy must be approved unanimously by these membership organizations. This requirement for uniformity in TAB policies was created in order to insure full international discussion and collaboration, high standards for trainings, and to inhibit the undue influence of personal or small group interests.” From: DZB SRC

Functionally, David Bersin is confused. How does taking policy making out of the hands of the majority increase collaboration? How does giving a select few the right to set policy limit the undue influence of a select few? The TAB was created to “to insure full international discussion and collaboration…and to inhibit the undue influence of personal or small group interests”?! I think not.

What David is writing is the exact opposite of how the process works. There is not now, nor has there EVER been shared decision making on policy. Have any of you had a meaningful hand in certifying a new trainer? Setting training policy? Of course not. The TABs were specifically created to limit participation from the rable such as you and I. Denis Leri states it quite succinctly below.

Denis Leri Discusses the Trainer Monopoly

For a look on how the TAB’s were originally designed to work, let’s go back about 16 years to a letter written by Denis Leri (Denis_Leri_TAB-1992 DOWNLOAD). I do not know the exact context for the letter. It was forwarded to me anonymously. But it is written on a Guild letterhead. Perhaps it is from an FGNA newsletter? The first quote is verbatim. The second has my comments in block parentheses [ ].

“Some people think that anyone having anything to do with trainings should not be on the TAB because of conflict of interest. First, we have had an internal policy about conflict of interest dating to 1986 which we are making explicit in this proposal. It has been followed with extreme diligence. There are checks and balances in place. Minutes of the meeting exist. Secondly, speaking for myself as a training organizer, some previous policy decisions of the TAB were not implementable on a practical level not withstanding their good intentions.

I believe, as an organizer and educational director, we should have representation of and by those people who take the risks and do the very difficult and arduous tasks required to form a training program. I feel it is not desirable to exclude people who can and do understand the realities of training situations. Finally, it is a shared perception that generally speaking, the quality of trainings has improved. To me, that says, on the hand, that the trainings are doing a good job and, on the other hand, that you out there are responsible for drawing a broad range of quality people into our work.”

Filling in the blanks:

“Some people think that anyone having anything to do with trainings should not be on the TAB because of conflict of interest. [Not anyone, just trainers. It’s basic common sense. You want to regulate yourself under the guise of faux oversight of the TABs?] First, we have had an internal policy about conflict of interest dating to 1986 which we are making explicit in this proposal. [An internal policy about conflict of interest IS a conflict interest!!] It has been followed with extreme diligence. [Your secret internal policies, that you alone enforce??!] There are checks and balances in place [Says who?]. Minutes of the meeting exist [Who cares. Minutes are worthless and easily changed. Think Enron.] Secondly, speaking for myself as a training organizer [with a vested financial interest], some previous policy decisions of the TAB were not implementable on a practical level not withstanding their good intentions [Says who?]

I believe, as an organizer and educational director, [again – with vested financial interests] we should have representation of and by those people who take the risks and do the very difficult and arduous tasks required to form a training program [In other words, financial rewards are not enough to satisfy his massive ego needs] I feel it is not desirable to exclude people who can and do understand the realities of training situations [Does Leri understand the reality of the shrinking guild and his own training programs?]. Finally, it is a shared perception [I think he means: “shared delusion”] that generally speaking, the quality of trainings has improved [Bullshit]. To me, that says, on the hand, that the trainings are doing a good job and, on the other hand, that you out there are responsible for drawing a broad range of quality people into our work. [Which contribute directly to the trainers’ bottom line, but not our own]

In case you missed or don’t remember my post on Denis’s proposed Feldenkrais Trainer Guild, let me give you one choice quote:

…it’s a drag to cover up the fact that TAB’s and Guilds have no business involved in the formation of Trainers.

Yea, yea, that’s it baby. It’s a drag. It’s really a f*cking drag. Engaging in a decades long cover up has taken a great deal of emotional and intellectual work. And why bother anymore? It’s already in plain site: From the perspective of many trainers the TABs and Guilds have no business. No business certifying trainers. No business certifying trainings, no business engaging in ANY action that might limit the trainer classes ability to fleece the faithful. Feldenkrais: By the Trainers for the Trainers.

Enough said.

Next Up: The Guild Service Mark Application

Soon I will be posting some historical documents and information related to the Guild’s application for the “service marks” back in the 1980’s. You may not agree with my interpretation. But, as always, I will post links to original documents and sources when I can get them so that you can have access to source material. By the way – Please do not assume that this blog and its various resources will always be here. If something interests you, grab it, keep it, and share it.

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IFF Committee Wants Change. Feldenkrais Trainers “NO.”

It is no secret that Feldenkrais training are getting smaller and smaller. Some trainers can barely attract a dozen people into their training programs and yet they passionately write that “everything is fine” and must stay the same. It is mind boggling. I never realized such institutionalized incompetence could exist outside the halls of academia and religion. I guess that’s what happens when you have a legal monopoly and people who are hell bent on keeping it, regardless of its futility.

A little context

Many of you are not members of the FGNA and are thus not kept up to date with what’s going on at the International Feldenkrais Federation (IFF) or elsewhere in the community. Even most FGNA members do not know about this.

What I am speaking to today is the IFF’s Structural Review Group Report. The report made a number of practical suggestions and notations including:

“we have been attempting to regulate quality (of practitioners) through complex rules and regulations, while a more effective way to ensure quality is through culture. By this we mean that we need to rely on the baseline purposes and principals that underlie our training policy, and then encourage a culture of learning, investigation, sharing, innovation, even competition, to encourage quality”

How dare those bastards say that!! You want a method that is based on organic learning and development to have a governing structure to match it? Shame on you! Just kidding. It sounds like a great idea to me. Why not try to use a distal pathway to effect change rather than the 25+ year proximal path – control from on high, regulated by the feldenkrias trainers/gurus/overlords. The report goes on to state:

“it does not make sense to include TABs as members of the IFF, and we recommend that TAB membership in IFF come to an end.”

And:
“…the best practical change we as a community could make would be to shift responsibility for training and accreditation to the national-guild level. Then the national associations and guilds could adopt training policies which suit the regulatory climate in their countries.”

So on others words, they want to fit the lesson to the person – or in this case, to the culture. The SRC committee no longer wants to imitate the legal, law and medical professions. They want to create something organic. It sounds like a wonderful start. But of course, the IFF committee forgot one small idea: those from the trainer class who are not interested in change.

What Do The “Trainers” Think of the Recommendations?

I am sure there are some trainers in support of the changes, but they must be wearing their “cloaks of invisibility.” I didn’t read any positive comments. Here’s Elizabeth Beringer, sounding like a wounded child:

“How is it that a totally inexperienced group got all this IFF money and consultants and it goes directly to the full IFF board. Whereas I’ve been at so many meeting coming up with great ideas and consensus on some changes that go nowhere?” 

Yea, Elizabeth, like TOTALLY! It’s not fair!! “How come they get to have ice cream without finishing their spinach? I want ice cream too!! And besides, their like, TOTALLY inexperienced and I’m almost 5 years old now!” Sorry, Beth. Life’s not fair. Risk takers and those who are independent have the opportunity to get rewarded. That is one of many reasons that people like Mia Segal, Ruthy Alon, Chava Shelhav, Anat Baniel, Michael Krugman and many others are actually getting known in the real world and making contributions. On the other hand, you serve admirably on committees, but don’t get to make much of a contribution. Perhaps you should learn something from that. Ever hear of “learning how to learn”?

Here’s part of the response from David Zemach-Bersin-Feldenkrais

“In the SRG letter, we are told that a small group have had a ‘revelation’ that the TAB’s should no longer be part of the IFF, and that all educational and training program policies should now be determined and regulated by each individual country.”

Oh, shit!! Now that is TOO funny. King David himself had a revelation years ago. You already know about it. What Moshe Feldenkrais really wanted was a religious hierarchy created in his name with David at the head. Suddenly, a letter magically appeared, making David and his buddies, the “Lords of the New Feldenkrais Church®” with right to call themselves “Trainers.” A term, by the way, that Moshe never used. So yes, Bersin knows all about revelation. “Hallelujah! Praise the Lord and Pass the Service Marks!” Divine revelation is the basis of Bersin’s entire career, which sadly, has become the basis for the entire bondoogle of the feldenchrist method mess.

His Holiness the David Bersin, goes on to write:

“Do we really imagine that by de-internationalizing training policies, by making the TAB’s more vulnerable to political pressures from a few people, will bring us closer to well examined and well developed standards?”

And:

“I suggest that the IFF and the Feldenkrais educational community….not make rushed decisions based on who speaks the loudest, to not make the easy decisions, but rather to make responsible decisions that will serve and protect our work in an enduring way rather than serve the interests of the few.”

I’m speechless. (Though, apparently I can still type). David Bersin lives and breathes the ethic that Moshe and his work should be controlled by a few. After 30+ years of being a feldenchrist cult leader he still tries to present himself as “sharing Moshe’s legacy.”

Feldenkrais Trainer by Fiat

Perhaps many of you do not know this, but David Bersin and his buddies are Feldenkras trainers by fiat. They are trainers because they declared themselves to be trainers. It was a legal and political process, not one based on merit. The guild came to power only after Moshe died. And the policies certifying new trainers had nothing – nothing – to do with Dr. Feldenkrais. The initial rules of the feldenkrais church, allowed the first group of American assistants (of which little David was one) to become trainers after 3 three years of practicing! THREE YEARS. Soon that was expanded to 5 years, then 10. Now, it’s ten years on paper, but the reality is 15 to 20 years – IF you can get certified at all.

And why should the trainer class certify their competition? What would be the reason? If a trainer can get barely make a living from his own trainings why would you expect him or her to certify new trainers? Hey! I just had an idea. Let’s do what the Catholic Church does and make trainer certification only available after death! That should limit the competition. “You have now been canonized as a Feldenkrais Trainer. Good luck in the after life.”

Seriously, many of these trainers are simply nuts. They are drunk on their own self-importance, doing their best to keep hold of a monopoly that they themselves created. Any change is seen as bad. They don’t want to open pandora’s box and find that practitioners discover their own power.

Just a few more quotes and I will end. This one is from St. Paul Rubin de San Francisco. Paul Rubin is one who makes no reservations of the fact that his entire professional identity comes from Moshe. He proudy states on his website that he is:

“…one of only 80 people to have completed training entirely under Dr. Feldenkrais and to have received diploma from him. Additionally, Dr. Feldenkrais served as Chair of Paul’s PhD committee at the Humanistic Psychology institute 1975-1978.”

Yes, yes, of course. And Rubin forgot to add: “Moshe told me that I am very handsome, and smart too!! My daddy is a fireman and my mommy is a school teacher.” Good lord. In other words, Moshe Feldenkrais signed Paul Rubin’s permission slip! Isn’t that special? One can only assume that if Rubin had done anything more recent he would have mentioned it on his website.

What does Lord Rubin think of the SRC’s recomendations?

“The policies that govern the creation of new Feldenkrais Teachers/Practitioners should never be trivialized to become about providing employment opportunities for people who wish to perform the functions of Assistants, Trainers and Educational Directors.”

???? What in the hell that statement has to do with the SRC’s proposal, I do not know. But it certainly speaks volumes about where Rubin’s concern lies. He simply does not want any change that would result in more competition for himself and his buddies. The need of the practitioners and assistants be damned! Who the hell do they think they are wanting to a chance to do meaningful work in the community in which they were trained? Thus speaks Lord Rubin:

“Let them eat cake.”

One final quote:

“…in the current atmosphere of false urgency to enable change, I simply have to raise these issues. There is great danger in over-fixing a system that in many respects is working well and is improving each year.”

There you have it people. The final pronouncement from Paul Rubin: “Everything is working fine. Nothing here to see. Just move along.”

When it comes down to it, I can’t say that I blame him for saying that. He did sell his soul to become a trainer. And he did give up any chance of meaningful organic development in order to become a simulacrum of Moshe. He must feel entitled to some payback for becoming a golem. Ditto for David Bersin et al.

cheers – Ryan

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Denis Leri Wants a Separate Feldenkrais Trainer’s Guild

I have heard this idea floated many times over the years – some trainers threatening to leave the guild over some issue that upsets them. Actually, I have seen some of the emails in which trainers have threatened to leave. They are actually a bit funny as the “issues” – if you can call them that – are often over something incredibly stupid such as someone not liking a new Guild-produced brochure.

There are other issues of course. The main one, in my view, is practitioners not being dragged into the intercine warfare between these people. Let them fight their own battles and spend their own money and time doing so. Also, having a separate trainers guild will make it clear – legally and intellectually – where the monopoly actually resides.

Perhaps the idea will finally be considered? Unilateral disengagement by the trainers. Not something unfamiliar to these guys and gals.

Here’s Denis Leri:

“It’s not a trivial thing for us all to realize that we’re at a crossroads. Let’s do the unthinkable and start over. Not discuss it or form a committee but just say that tomorrow we’ll form a Trainer’s association/Guild that will have simple standards. We’ll make up the rules as we are adults and we’ve all done a lot of training. Admit that it’s a drag to cover up the fact that TAB’s and Guilds have no business involved in the formation of Trainers. Sure, the national Guild can oversee practitioners and their wants and needs but they don’t serve our needs or the needs of a changing world. It’s embarrassing to hear all this complaining and whining. If Trainers organize the Guilds will have a lot more money and time to serve their constituents and we can free our selves to really differentiate and vitalize the work. Originally it made sense to get community input about trainers because we wanted to avoid hegemony. But now, face it, there are distinct lineages of trainers and that’s been a natural evolution. Why not bless that development and set it free to really propagate. Years of compromise have sucked the life out of many of us. Trainers of the world: Unite!”

Originally published March 27th, 2009 on the IFF Website: http://feldenkrais-method.org/en/node/1984