NLP and organic learning should and must be used in the field of education, regarding finding answers and improvement as to how students learn. Particularly in Europe, more and more teachers are entering NLP Practitioner and sometimes NLP Master Practitioner classes. Below is a series of tips for using NLP in the field of education in organic learning. These tips will be useful for those trained in NLP as well as for those who are not.
Tip 1: Primary Interest Focus
Most teachers’ primary interest is on their teaching. They develop lesson plans, follow guidelines, and frequently focus on being a better teacher compared to their peers or those who taught them. The primary interest, however, should not be on the “plan” of a teacher, just so they can get through all the information in the right way, as then the departure point becomes WHAT we learn. The primary focus should be on the student, and more importantly how the student learns. When this happens, there is less need for a (lesson) plan, as it is happening in the moment. A free flowing design. It is more interactive and therefore required to be more organic. The teachers’ mode of educating a student must be based on the feedback that the student gives. We start to tap into HOW we learn.
Tip 2: Abstract vs. Concrete Teaching
Most teachers (even a lot of NLP trainers) are very abstract in their approach. This means they talk about definitions, steps, and concepts, rather than being more concrete (things that the students can see, hear, and feel or touch.) Anything taught needs to be placed in the student’s map of the world. And as an NLP trainer I always say, “experience is the best teacher.” This doesn’t mean that everything needs to be a field trip or hands-on work. In my classes, an NLP Practitioner learns how to use language to simply activate the brain, and in a sense create an experience on the inside as if they are actually on a school trip or doing the hands-on work.
For example: “A lemon is a fruit, and it is sour. It is used for lemonade and cooking. It grows on a tree, in warmer climates, in country, X, Y and Z. Bla bla bla.” I guarantee you the student won’t particularly be excited about this explanation, and will store very little for permanent retention inside the brain. Only a few things were kept and installed inside the brain. There was no experience. We can ask the student to memorize, pass a test, after this they will move on. And a lemon will be never anything more than something you have with a tequila shot.
Instead, try this: “I want you to imagine a lemon, it is yellow, dimpled, feels cold and waxy to the touch. When you slice it, you hear the knife cut from harder to then softer surface. Juice squirts out onto your hands. A sour smell penetrates your nose. Now imagine putting the lemon in your mouth. A sour sensation tickles your tongue, fresh watery juice.” This description causes people to experience a lemon. You can then open for questions, what that experience was like, and what you could make with lemons. Then imagine stepping them into the world of walking into a field with lemon trees.
Tip 3: Born & not Born Learners
We are ALL born learners. One thing that sets us apart from animals is in our learning. An animal comes out of the womb and stands up, walks, swims, and plays. But the trade-off is they will never play a musical instrument, paint a masterpiece, or ride a bicycle. Children learn before they even enter the school system. They learn everything from language, to walking, running, playing, etc. We do this by experience, and we learn much faster than the traditional school system assumes we can. Yet we are so eager to lock them up into rooms later, on an uncomfortable chair behind an uncomfortable table.
Tip 4: We Learn Through Movement & Need for Survival
As children, if we don’t move, we don’t learn. We would be lying in bed all day. We engage with our environment, and we are always moving and doing. It is through movement that we inherently learn survival skills. It is how we get food, water, and shelter; it is how we reproduce, protect ourselves, or run away from danger. This understanding is a whole different departure point for learning, instead of learning for the sake of passing a test in the hopes that some of it will stick for a future profession and being productive members of society. We are capable of much more where it comes to learning.
Tip 5: Conscious Learning is Different from Awareness
To cram information inside the brain and to make it conscious is one step. But to create awareness is a second step that needs to be taken. Awareness is about being conscious and knowing something about it. You can learn how to count for counting’s sake. Or you can look at a fruit basket, and gain an awareness of how many apples are in there, versus bananas. And you can know something about it. Only then is our conscious learning useful information. Again it is about connecting it to an experience we can see, hear, and feel. To make it useful to count. To make it useful to learn and be more.
Tip 6: Curiosity Rules
When we are born we are what you call a “tabula rasa”; we only have minor abilities. When we are born, we can do next to nothing and we are dependent on others. Our nervous system/brain teaches us everything we need to know. Another thing that sets us apart from animals is a curiosity. An animal may only be curious as to where to eat, drink, or go home. But as humans our curiosity goes much farther than that. We learn how to play music, give a public speech, tell time, etc. Curiosity is the key to learning. As an NLP trainer I ignite curiosity through eliciting the emotional state of curiosity. The decision of when to teach something is the moment where a student becomes curious; we tease with information that makes someone curious. I intentionally design introduction exercises around it, part of the installation of the knowledge organically is already learned before I have explained it. Our school system dictates that we need to learn how to read at an a certain age, but let’s say a 3 year old has an interest in dinosaurs and you show him the dinosaur book section in the library. The desire to want to learn how to read at that moment in time is ripe for the picking.
Tip 7: Learning is about Personal Development
Academic learning completely misses the boat: that the reason we go to school is because we are there to personally develop ourselves. Yet the way that we teach children has nothing to do with personal development. We are just fulfilling requirements. By allowing personal development in every way possible to filter into our school systems, we start making changes. Not just for acquiring the information on an academic level, but for making people well integrated happy human beings now and when they grow up to be an adult. This should be our priority.
Tip 8: Learning is About Removing Limitations
The moment we hit a limitation is the moment we see a necessity to learn. This is a crucial point of when to teach a student. When we weren’t able to reach our parents and we were stuck on the floor, we learned how to crawl, then walk. Then we realized if we wanted to be safe or play, we learned how to run. The moment we started feeling left out in activities others knew how to do, we wanted to learn how to do those activities. That’s the time: as a teacher you educate to remove limitations.
Tip 9: Learning is about Leading Our Dream Life
Inherently, what we need to teach students are tools, skills, and information that allow them to follow their dreams. These are not just academic subjects; things in the personal development realm and emotions are the factors that determine our well-being and success. We need self-esteem, confidence, learning how to forgive, etc. Organic learning becomes a joyful experience, we acquire knowledge, we gain awareness and collect new information, while being empowered.
Top 10: Teaching Someone How to Think, Not What to Think
We learn through activating our senses: seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting. We learn through looking for patterns. We need to create optimal conditions for a student to do so. Once a student understands how to think, and makes what to think secondary, we go beyond the possibilities of what we know as learning. Once someone knows how to think and learn, the information will end up being coded at warped speed. For instance, the reason why we read slowly is because we are taught to sound the words out in our head. A training in speed reading teaches us how to read without sounding the words out; by looking for patterns and seeing multiple lines at the same time. The moment we marry optimal use of our brain for learning, then we learn at warp speed.
In short, the departure point of good education is making the WHAT we learn secondary to HOW we learn. It is then when we start to realize that our current education system needs to have more NLP tools, as NLP focuses on:
1. How the brain works and actually learns
2. How to create an experience inside the brain through language
3. How to create sensory based learning and teaching
4. Removing & preventing limitations
5. Creating resourceful emotional states, and how to switch someone from the negative to the positive.
6. Tools for personal development.
The above tips were inspired by Chapter 7 “Self-Fulfillment Through Organic Learning”, inside the book “Embodied Wisdom” by Moshe Feldenkrais.
NLP Practitioner and NLP Master Practitioner training teach all of the above. Our aim in teaching is to provide an education through organic learning.