some people brilliant at what they do? What is "the difference
that makes the difference"? This is what two academics from California,
Richard Bandler and John Grinder, were asking themselves back in seventies.
particularly interested in the outstanding professional performance
of three people: Fritz Perls, the psychotherapist behind the Gestalt
school of therapy; Virginia Satir, an extraordinary family therapist,
and Milton Erickson, a well known and successful hypnotherapist. How
did these three achieve their excellence and would it be possible to
learn to do the same by observing their strategies? It appeared that
there was much in common in the way these three people worked, but none
of them was aware that they were in fact using specific patterns of
and Grinder set about analysing and investigating the possibility of
modelling the strategies in order to then apply them to other situations
and other fields, and bring about the same outstanding results.
the work originatd in the field of psychotherapy, it is since gone beyond
that, and today, NLP techniques are used in areas such as marketing,
ales, police work and education.
the study of Excellence.
about effective communication
about how the mind works, how we think, act and behave.
NLP, opens ys to the possibility of CHOICES that can enrich our teaching,
and our learning and our lives.
and its effect in the classroom
the beliefs which is at the core of NLP is that "the map is not
the territory". We all have different "maps" of the world,
and see things in different ways. We all use a combination of the five
representational systems, that is, visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, olfatory
and gustatory. (The last two refer to our sense of smell and taste and
tend to be less dominant).
cases it is possible to detect a preference in a studen'ts learning
style quite easily. Sometimes it is not so obvious, and we may have
to do some investigating to find out how a particular student is recieving
with a VISUAL preference react well to pictures and diagrams and on
the whole have few problems with reading and writing. They are often
good spellers, as they can memorise by pictures, and to access this
visual information they will look upwards. In their language they would
include phrases such us "I see what you mean" and "the
future looks bright". These tend to be observant and organised
students and fortunate in that our educational system works in their
favour. The rest of the class may find it useful to model some of their
learning strategies and practice being "more visual".
It is important
to note that it is possible to improve skills in any area and we need
not feel that we are "fixed" with a predominant learning (or
teaching) style which may not be allowing us to get the best results
in every situation. It would be all too easy to be able to say "no,
sorry, I don't dance, you see I'm visual!" If you don't dance it's
probably because you don't want it.
with an AUDITORY preference are happiest using their ears, so they will
enjoy listening task ans cassettes, and will often find it helpful to
repeat things to themselves. Theyenjoy discussions and reading aloud.
In their sppeech you may well find phrases such as "that rings
a bell", or "it was music to my ears". For accessing
auditory information the eyes tend to move to the left or to the right
towards the ears. The learner with an auditory preference will sometimes
move their lips while reading, and talk while writing.
with a KINAESTHETIC preference is often the one who is easiest to spot
in the classroom. He can't keep still. He learns by doing, by feelling
and touching and moving around, and is the one most often seen punished
in the corridor. Our primary schools are quite kind to the more kinaesthetic
learners, but after that it's a different story. From secondary school
upwards the system does not allow for students to move and use their
bodies and the kinasthetic learner is often at a severe disadvantage.
This student will use language such us "I'll be in touch"
and "I feel it in my bones", and the eyes tend to go downwards
to the left and right for accessing information.
teachers are we reaching ALL our students? Are we adapting our own preferred
style of teaching to give our class a balanced set of activities which
enable them ALL to learn and to move forward? Are all our lessons MULTISENSORY?
are aware and respectful of the different learning styles that our students
have, it is easier to create a relationship of rapport and harmony,
which is so important if real progress is to be made. The reponsibility
we have goes way beyond irregular past tense verbs: we can make a difference
in how the students feel about themselves, which will spill over into
areas outside the classroom. NLP techniques can help to provide an enviroment
which forms the basis for learning and makes it natural and effective
and takes away the stress that is too often synonymous with teaching.
In my own
case, I know that I don't always succeed, but I am motivated by another
NLP belief: "Failure is a renewed opportunity for success".
Do our students know that?