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NLP in Education

Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Education

by Michael Grinder – the National Director of NLP in Education

NLP in Education* is a model of communication that was originally founded by Richard Bandler and my brother, John Grinder (I am famous for knowing which family to be born into). The two of them, along with other communication pioneers, studied three outstanding communicators: Fritz Pearl, Milton Erickson, and Virginia Satir. From their research they formed a model of how to model people. The personalities of the founders and their initial focus become part of the fabric of the model that was established.

NLP is known as a psychological vehicle for change. It is primarily taught as a set of assumptions that are implemented in a one-on-one setting. The change occurs as the person alters their inner makeup (e.g., identity, core beliefs, perceptions).

Because educators operate in a group setting and innately shy away from psychological models, NLP does not have a large following in education. The one educational arena that teachers have found assistance from NLP has been in the identification of students’ learning styles.

Most of the current learning style models about how pupils process use static methodology – a survey has to be taken.** Then the instructor has to memorize each student’s test results—an almost impossible task for teachers.

Learning of how to recognize the neurological indicators of the visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles can be time consuming, the detection is invaluable. By knowing how an individual student processes information, the teacher can deliver information specifically for that student. A teacher’s exposure to any of the numerous models of how students process information increases the teacher’s appreciation of the daunting task to effectively communicate while teaching.

Many NLP counselors obtain amazing results with students. The books they write are beacons of what is humanly possible. However, teachers don’t operate in one-on-one settings. Metaphorically, teachers are settlers who ask NLP, “How do I to find time to flexibly deliver information to a student?”

Because of such a plea, as an educational consultant, I have switched my focus from curriculum concerns, such as identifying student’s learning styles and lesson design, to classroom management. The more effective the teacher is with management, the more time the teacher has for curriculum consideration.

NLP, John Grinder and Judith DeLozier in particular, taught me how to observe. After 17 years of teaching on three levels of education I have observed in over 6,000 classrooms on three continents. Using the NLP concept of modeling I have outlined in my books ENVoY, Your Personal Guide to Classroom Management and A Healthy Classroom, management strategies used by outstanding teachers. Because these techniques are done by the vast majority of teachers on some days, the implementation of these approaches are very palatable to teachers.

Realtors have three rules: location, location, and location; so, too, educators have three axioms: relationship, relationship, and relationship. The ENVoY strategies are non-verbal competencies that preserve the relationship between the teacher and class.

NLP was billed as the “study of subjective experience.” While we know not all the ways that NLP can assist education, I beg my fellow pioneers to be sensitive when offering suggestions to the settlers in our classrooms.


*Neuro Linguistic Programming

** Gardener’s Multi Intelligence; Mc Carthy’s 4Mat; Hemispherology; Dunn’s Learning Styles; Myers-Briggs, etc.

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