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Header: Institute for Systemic NLP, Hamburg


by Roger W. Vaisey

Looking back on your life, what were your most enjoyable learning experiences? Take a moment to do this. As you remember one, think about what you remember seeing. Think about what you remember hearing. Think about what you remember feeling. Where were you?

It is highly likely that you were not in a school classroom listening to a teacher. You were probably playing with friends, or inventing a game with very special rules, or somewhere like a favorite place in nature, playing near water, a stream, a lake, or maybe building a castle in the sand by the sea. Or maybe you were riding your bicycle, or absorbed in a fascinating book in your bedroom at home. In other words the best learning experiences were for many people were where we learnt something completely new, or learnt a new ability, or creative capacity and they probably occurred in our every day life and experience far away from our formal schooling. Of course for many of us there were some good and useful learning experiences at school but probably not so many.
Some people think learning occurs between 0 and 5. Others think it is between 0 and 23 when you finish college, university or an apprentiship for some trade or profession as long as it isn’t law, medicine or engineering.

How about appreciating that learning could be about learning about life, all ones life including ones death, about continually discovering new things, abilities, and understandings. How about the idea that there is no time at all in life when learning is not the number one activity needed for growth, survival and inner development. Milton H. Erickson the famous psychiatrist and hypno-therapist always used to say that one of the greatest things one can do in life is to learn about oneself and ones own unconscious mind.

So if learning is so important what are some of the elements of successful as opposed to less successful learning?

When we experience something for the first time we take in information from the out side through our 5 senses. However due to our various life experience most people tend to favor one preferred sense over the other. This fact becomes very relevant when you consider learning something especially in a formal classroom setting. People who can quickly and easily visualize tend to do very well in the educational systems. They quickly see pictures of what is being presented and they understand and can easily remember the information.

People whose preferred system is auditory can hear what is said but do not make such clear pictures. To get information they need to hear it first. They do not tend to do so well in the educational systems because you can only hear one thing at a time so they don’t quickly see what is being said. The Kinesthetics do the worst at school. They don’t see what is being shown them nor do they particularly hear it. They feel things. When it comes to exams and tests they remember very little.

So the Visuals are then credited with being highly intelligent and the Auditories less so. And the good old Kinesthetics are thought to being dumb, or just plain stupid.

This is a good example of improper naming and causes much unhappiness and self-depreciation. The fact is that all three types can be highly intelligent in different ways.

Because it is easy to see many pictures at the same time, as was said earlier Visuals can quickly make connections to other information and remember it all easily. They usually go on into such professions as academia, law or medicine.

The Auditories don’t do quite so well in class but are often very musical with a keen musical intelligence.

The Kinesthetics hate sitting all cramped up in a classroom but put them on a football pitch or a basketball court and they will exhibit a highly developed perceptual/movement intelligence.

The well-known ability to spell or not shows some of this clearly. The Visuals make a big bright picture of a word and can then easily read and spell it correctly. The Auditories hear it spoken and attempt to spell it from the sound, usually wrongly. This is the famous phonetic method, not a good one. The Kinesthetic neither see nor hear the word but feel it and of course nearly always get the spelling wrong.

One of the greatest lessons you can teach to Kindergarten children is how to learn, namely how to easily visualize on the inside of their minds.
So in 20 minutes you can teach the Auditories and Kinesthetics to look up with their eyes to their upper left side and to make a picture of for example a word to spell. Suggest they make a background their favorite color or of one of their favorite activities, like football, swimming, or riding their bicycle and get them to superimpose the letters of the word you want them to learn in a different color. Very quickly they learn to do this and you can suggest that they can do this for all the other things they are expected to learn. A bit more practice and repetition and you can help them to make formal learning so much more easy and fun. Such children gain a lot of confidence in a short time and they tend to do much better in school, as well as keeping and developing their auditory and/or kinesthetic abilities.

This information is also highly relevant to adults who have a sense of being frustrated by the learning experience.

Another aspect to successful learning is being comfortable with confusion. If you think back to what you have learnt in your life, when you first learnt it seemed strange and a bit uncomfortable, maybe a bit confusing. This is part of the process so it is helpful to be relaxed with this.

And one more aspect that I would like to mention is being inspired by someone who is a genius or great expert in whatever one is attempting to learn. This inspiration should not be a comparison because that is a daunting and off-putting prospect. So if one is inspired by the tennis playing of say Boris Becker, or the piano playing of Rubenstein it is important to know that one will never play like either of them yet they can inspire one to play the best you are capable of in your own unique way. And when all is said and done isn’t the greatest learning of all to be oneself in ones own way and to learn to relax deeply with that.
If you have any questions or comments about these articles, you can always email Roger at ObscureMyEmail

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