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NLP and Education
-Shannon Sumrall, M.A., M.Ed., LPC, NCC
NLP, Hypnosis & Time Line Therapy™
are interested in NLP or Hypnosis training please visit our training site
NLP and Education
-Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Applied in Schools
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and related applications can be effectively
applied to improving the educational outcomes for students, teachers, administrators,
and the community. Blackerby (2002a) believes we have presupposed that students
know how to learn in the classroom and perform the academic tasks we assign
to them and often they do not; and a large number of students have been traumatized
by their inability to succeed in school. Craft (2001) believes that NLP offers
a positive, practical view of learning as a way of becoming consciously more
effective in the world, as a learner of whatever age. Using NLP principles
we can utilize behavioral flexibility to approach the educational process
in new and exciting directions.
quickly and easily through fun and exploration in a total atmosphere that
supports learning through variety, surprise, imagination and challenge (Dryden
& Vos, 1999). The state that is best for stimulating long-term memory by activating
subconscious learning is believed by many researchers and teachers to be 8
to 12 cycles per second or alpha brainwave (Dryden & Vos, 1999; James, 1996).
Researchers have found that baroque music can induce alpha partly because
its main 60 to 70 beats per minute are identical to alpha (Bandler, 1986;
Stockwell, 1992). Georgi Lozanov, a Bulgarian psychiatrist and educator, developed
much of our recent knowledge about using music to induce states into a learning
format he named suggestopedia (Luzanov, 1978). Suggestopedia has been experimentally
documented, in an experiment with the U.S. Army, in successfully learning
the German language at a 661 percent increase, achieving more than twice the
results in less than one-third of the time as regular German language instruction
(Dryden & Vos, 1999).
Dunn & Waggoner
(1995) have compared the similarities of NLP with Lozanov's suggestopedia
and Rita and Kenneth Dunn's instructional system that responds to individual's
learning styles. All of these approaches share the belief that academic failure
is caused by how schools deliver instruction to students (Dunn & Waggoner
1995). These approaches all recognize that learning is state dependant and
work towards establishing optimal learning states in students.
Programming (NLP) and Education
The overall goal
of NLP applied to education is to provide a basic framework that is aligned
with the empirical experience of learning and training situations for the
purpose of improving the effectiveness and speed with which goal oriented
learning can take place (Dilts & Epstein, 1995). NLP relates words, thoughts,
and behaviors to goals and purposes by focusing on effective communication
with tools for taking perspectives on issues (Craft, 2001). NLP views education
from the relationship of the fundamental processes through which we acquire
new skills and achieve personal competence and excellence. This involves utilizing
skills for developing conscious and unconscious competence through the establishment
of new programs and strategies (James, 1996). This covers a spectrum from
learning disabilities and problems to exceptional and accelerated learning
programs. The content of learning is constantly changing and it is important
to develop skills that build on the how and why of learning to start developing
such skills as early in life as possible. Dilts & Epstein (1995) suggest the
following areas are covered by the application of NLP to education:
- Basic principles
Neuro-linguistic processes involved in learning
- Dynamic assessment
and self-assessment processes
- Levels of
learning and learning strategies
learning and cooperative learning processes
- Types of skills
and learning styles Learning tools and teaching tools
in education provide fundamental tools and strategies to help people to update,
acquire, filter, and retain new information as a constant, ongoing process
(James, 1996). The basic applications of NLP to education revolve around the
principles of dynamic learning (Dilts & Epstein, 1995). Dynamic learning is
about learning through experience. The process of dynamic learning involves
learning by doing, exploring different methods of thinking, and acknowledges
that the relationships between people are a key factor in learning (Dilts
& Epstein, 1995). If you want to understand then act, as the learning is in
the doing (Craft, 2001). Dynamic learning tools emphasize the skills of cooperative
learning, co-coaching, and mentoring. Dynamic learning methods use the modeling
principles and tools of NLP to release natural learning capabilities through
awareness, exploration, and discovery (James, 1996). The widening of choice
is an important goal and the act of choice as necessary to action is emphasized
(Craft, 2001). Dilts & Epstein (1995) list the following outcomes of application
of NLP to education:
and enriching personal strengths
memory and imagination
optimal learning states and strategies
- Dealing with
resistances to learning
beliefs that support learning
and reframe limiting beliefs relating to learning
of multi-level learning interventions
perceived failures into positive feedback
interactive learning processes
is seen to be largely the result of the cognitive strategies a person employs
in the process of acquiring a new mental or behavioral skill. Learning strategies
are one of the seven basic classes of strategies identified by NLP (along
with memory, decision making, creativity, motivation, reality, and belief)
(James, 1996). Learning strategies relate to the sequence of cognitive steps
of operations the people go through an order to develop new thinking skills
and behavioral capabilities. Like all successful strategies, effective learning
is seen to take place through the Test-Operate-Test-Exit (T.O.T.E) feedback
loop that is based on computer modeling (James, 1996). In the model of NLP
defining a learning strategy involves identifying the particular sequence
of representational systems a person uses within this feedback loop in order
to acquire a mental or behavioral skill. Of particular significance in eliciting
a learning strategy is defining the specific sensory modalities (visual, auditory,
kinesthetic) a person uses during the process of acquiring a certain ability
or competency. Helm (1990) experimentally has found no discernable differences
between sexes or races as to the distribution of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic
learning modalities. The sense modalities are seen as the key to processing
information and the mind and body are seen as mutually influencing each other
(Craft, 2001). Related to this NLP strategy concept is research conducted
by Gardner (1993) to document that each person possesses at least seven different
types of intelligence: linguistic intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence,
visual-spatial intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, musical intelligence,
interpersonal intelligence, and interpersonal intelligence. Gardener sees
that individuals can excel in one area but not the others and that other types
of intelligence can also exist.
A single and
universally effective learning strategy does not exist. Certain sequences
of representational systems tend to be more appropriate for some learning
tasks and they may be inefficient in other situations. The task of learning
algebra or organic chemistry is most effectively achieved with a strategy
involving internal visual and auditory recall of formulas and diagrams and
this strategy is less effective when applied to the task of learning a physical
activity like basketball or soccer which require a greater attention to external
visual and kinesthetic experience (Dilts & Epstein, 1995). It is important
to have a wide range of different learning strategies in order to be successful
in a variety of different types of tasks. NLP believes it is better to develop
flexibility to learn through several different strategies, rather than rigidly
using one (James, 1996). NLP seeks to create and provide tools to help people
to learn through many different strategies and for many different modalities
believe that when people experience difficulties in learning, it is often
the result of either the underdevelopment of particular representational systems
(usually visual or auditory), inappropriate or ineffective learning strategies,
limiting beliefs/expectations related to learning, a negative learning state
anchored to classroom subjects or situations, or a mismatch between the learning
strategy of the student and teaching style of the teacher (Dilts & Epstein,
1995). Helm (1991) has experimentally determined that grade inequalities exist
between visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and combination learning modalities.
Learning difficulties may also result from traumatic learning experiences
in childhood (Dilts & Epstein, 1995).
Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has the typical symptoms of an inability
to stabilize or hold a thought and a feeling of racing and out of control
cognition (DSM-IV-TR, 2000). Blackerby (1996) believes that ADHD symptoms
are a result of a combination of: trauma (past or ongoing); anxiety or stress;
excessive sugar and poor diet; allergies and yeast; communication gaps between
teacher and learner; and boredom. Individuals who are kinesthetic learners
or those with unique learning strategies are also sometimes mistakenly diagnosed
with ADHD (Dilts & Epstein, 1995). Blackerby (1996) sees ADHD as not simply
a behavior problem as it involves issues on multiple levels and the key to
dealing with the condition is addressing the belief that the mind cannot be
controlled or that the mind is in control of the individual. Armstrong (1995)
does not believe ADHD exists and sees that these children may have a different
styles of thinking, attending, and behaving, but believes that it is the broader
social and educational influences that create the disorder. Blackerby (2002b)
believes that many of these children are genius or near genius and have the
kind of mind that we want when we want creativity such as in brainstorming
involves difficulties in reading and spelling with frequent transposition
or reversal of letters. Dyslexics have difficulty analyzing spoken or written
words into smaller units of sound, or phonemes, and connecting phonemes with
the images of specific letters (Dilts & Epstein, 1995). NLP treats dyslexia
as mainly an issue of developing appropriate cognitive strategies and capabilities
as, for example, dyslexics eye movements indicate their difficulties in linking
sounds and images (James, 1996). NLP has a high degree of success in helping
dyslexics and particularly the NLP Spelling Strategy (that teaches learners
to form mental pictures of words) has been shown to improve the spelling abilities
of dyslexics dramatically (Dilts, 1997; Dilts & Epstein, 1995).
NLP works with
learning disabilities by encouraging the development of metacognition (an
awareness of personal thinking processes) and focuses on using specific thinking
strategies and skills in purposeful ways in approaching tasks, monitoring
if personal actions are achieving desired outcomes, and attributing successes
to consistent application of personal plans and strategies (Dilts & Epstein,
1995). Helm (2000) has recommended using NLP with the organic disabilities
of congenitally and non-congenitally visually impaired individuals to impart
an additional learning strategy to assist them in achieving their full intellectual
potential. The ultimate goal of all NLP interventions is to take individuals
away from being at effect and to put them at cause in their life.
intervention for learning disorders has been developed by educational kinesilogists
who have been effective in treating learning disorders, such as ADD and dyslexia,
and have developed body exercises using pressure-points, muscle testing, and
coordination patterns to reorient the electrical patterns of the brain (Dryden
& Vos, 1999). Learning disabilities are seen to result from stress overwhelming
and short-circuiting the brain and the exercises work to defuse this blockage
between the left and right sides of the brain. Stokes & Whitehead (1987) have
reported that 80 percent of learning disabilities are related to stress and
have responded to kinesilogical treatment.
has proposed that students experience problems in school because of the following
behavioral presuppositions that exist in our schools:
- Students naturally
know how to learn in the classroom.
- All students
learn at the same rate and in the same way.
- A certain
percentage of students will fail and/or do poorly in school.
- The school
system is more important than the individual student.
- More money
will solve all the problems of our schools.
- Students are
motivated only by punishment and/or reward.
- Learning activities
cause learning to occur.
is wrong with a student who does poorly in school.
- The better
the teacher, the better the learning.
suggests that we should instead adopt empowering presuppositions and he asks
"imagine for yourself, ...what it would be like to be in a school system operating
out of the following presuppositions as a student, a teacher, a school official,
a parent, or the public at large" and he presents the following:
- 1.All behavior
has a positive intention behind it.
- 2.There is
no such thing as failure, there is only feedback.
- 3.We choose
the best behavior based upon the choices we know and our model of the world.
- 4.More choice
is better than limited choice.
- 5.If it is
possible in the world, it is possible for me to learn.
can be learned if it is chunked properly.
- 7.The map
is not the territory, it is only a perceptual filter. [n.p.]
has proposed that classes and possibly entire schools be established for singular
learning modalities so the modality strength of the individual can be optimally
enhanced. Rawlins & Eberly (1991) have suggested using NLP in test interpretation,
interpreting internal processes, noticing behavioral sequences, focusing on
the processes of communication instead of the content, and educating how to
learn and not just what to learn. Stanton (1998) has reported single session
success with treating extreme examination anxiety with a combination of hypnosis
and NLP. Helm (1994) has suggested the use of NLP for school administrators
to use in establishing rapport with students, staff, and the community.
NLP can be used
in classrooms to make use of different learning modalities and strategies.
It is important to discover each student's combination of learning styles
and talents to cater to it while simultaneously encouraging the development
of all potential abilities (Dryden & Vos, 1999). Helm (1989, 1991) has proposed
dividing classes into preferred learning modality sections. Using the eye
calibration of modality techniques presented by Bandler & Grinder (1979) it
has been found that 80 percent of the population is normally organized with
looking up and to their left for visual remembered, left and middle for auditory,
and down to their right for kinesthetic. The rest of the population is known
as reversed organized and follow the reverse pattern. Classroom application
of this is when presenting in front of a class stand to the left of the students
when presenting intellectually oriented information to speak to the student's
right ear and left brain; and stand to the right if your presentation involves
right brain information and also to enhance auditory learning (Helm, 1989;
James, 1996). Generally for visual modality students, information should be
written up and to their left, auditory students should have information presented
to their middle left, kinesthetic students should have information presented
to them down and to their right (Bandler & Grinder, 1979). Modification to
the general pattern can be made for individual variations.
Programming has demonstrated an excellent potential for improving educational
approaches. The positive and practical viewpoint of NLP makes it a desirable
framework from which to approach educational activities. Although NLP is still
a very young approach it has had a powerful impact in its short life. Researchers
outside the NLP community continue to validate the wisdom of the basic concepts
of the theory, such as auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning styles.
Further research needs to be conducted to validate the more controversial
views of NLP such as its view of learning disabilities and NLP interventions
for changing these ineffective learning strategies. NLP provides the tools
and techniques with which educational excellence can be achieved and maintained.
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