In January 2018 I attended the NLP Leadership Summit in Alicante, Spain.

For 3 days Leaders and Professionals from the NLP Community, met, talked, debated and discussed all things NLP.

During the Summit I discussed the topic of NLP in Education with many of my NLP colleagues and connected with Terry McClendon (author of The Wild Days NLP and Happy Parents Happy Kids) who shares my thoughts on making the foundation skills of NLP available to Teachers, Educators, and Students.

The Leaders at the Summit co-authored a book Powered by NLP 2, yes there is a Powered by NLP 1 as well, feedback and reflections from the 2016 Summit.

Terry and I c0-wrote an article on NLP in Education and Learning, which is below for you to read.

NLP in Education and Learning ~ Joanna Harper and Terry McClendon


Joanna Harper

Can we enrich the learning and teaching experience with NLP? Could it be that in the future NLP foundation skills will be taught to all new teachers during their teacher training? And NLP will be offered to all qualified teachers as part of their ongoing professional development programs?

Is this a vision others share?

At the inspirational NLP Leadership Summit in January 2018, I was fortunate to connect with NLP Professionals who share my vision for NLP skills to be included in Education programs.

During conversations we had, both formal and informal many ideas about the benefits and value of NLP in Education were shared and expressed.

Although, the importance of NLP in Education was agreed upon by the majority of the NLP Leadership Summit group: opinions, visions, and applications ranged widely on what and how specifically.

My personal vision for NLP in Education is to include the Foundation skills of NLP in all new Teacher training courses.  Others in the group expressed a vision for teaching NLP to parents and to children.  And indeed Modelling children, who could be described as Master Modellers themselves.

A few days after returning from the Leadership Summit I flew to Africa to embark on a long planned second trip to train Teachers and Educators in NLP at a school in Mombasa, Kenya.  My NLP support for this school is ongoing. Through online resources, I am continuing to share with them NLP and Education related information.  I’m currently focusing on enhancing the children’s creative writing and communication skills with NLP.

The NLP in Education conversations have continued since I returned from both trips. Online and where possible, in person.  I have met with and spoken to Teachers, Head Teachers and NLP Professionals to explore the vision, share ideas, receive feedback and keep the conversation and momentum going.

I have been collating details from members of the Leadership Summit who have shared with me NLP in Education information, research and opinions they have. In addition to this, establishing what has already been done in the wider NLP community internationally and in the UK.

In order to avoid repeating work that has been completed by others I am interested in establishing what has been done, when and by whom. Then aim to create a co-operative of interested people to take the next steps for NLP in Education and Learning.

It has been expressed that in some countries it is not possible to do this without being led by a Trained or Licensed Teacher in their state education system.  I am mindful of this and aware this is a long-term project which will require a collaborative of interested qualified/Licensed Teachers, Educators and NLP Professionals.

It may be that others who share another vision for NLP in Education and Learning create working collaborations themselves and we can connect again at some point in the future.

Issues that are frequently raised in order for NLP to be considered of value to be taken into Education in the UK are the perceived poor image that NLP currently has.  Also, some models from NLP have been integrated into various education courses without referencing the source as being from the field of NLP.  This was a hot topic at the summit and other groups were formed to focus on these issues.  In addition to quality published research.

As a field of NLP Professionals we collectively have a lot of qualifications, skills, techniques and technology to create a positive change in Education and communicate this with decision makers in the Education ‘world’.

Reflections on NLP Strategies in Education

Terrence L McClendon, M.A.

The techniques and strategies of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) have a natural fit in educational settings.  Key elements of NLP are effective communication and enhanced behavioral outcomes: elements that are at the core of teaching and learning.   Proficiency in NLP techniques can be a valuable tool for teachers but NLP can also be in incorporated in other ways.  One powerful approach is to integrate NLP strategies into the curriculum and delivery so that NLP becomes a backdrop learning template.   For example, today’s multiple delivery styles – including traditional classroom instruction, videos, practical learning, demonstrations, group work – acknowledge students’ different learning styles and, in many cases, mirrors NLP’s early developmental work; work which modeled ways to maximize the learning outcomes for different people.

There are 6 fundamental categories of strategies in NLP – learning, motivating, believing, remembering, deciding and creating. Success in mastering these strategies, either directly or indirectly, is a key component for all learners in reaching their educational goals.

Strategies are founded on the T.O.T.E. Model[1](Test-Operate-Test-Exit, a sequence based on computer modeling).   This model is the basic design principle of every good strategy.  In general, all strategies define an outcome (eg to visualise a word in order to spell it correctly), a sequence of activities to achieve that outcome (write down the word etc) and well-formed and ecological conditions (eg pictures, sounds, feeling and external checks).  In my view, Robert Dilts (et al) provides the best and most comprehensive explanation of the parts and uses of strategies[2].   I recommend this book to any of my students who want a more in-depth understanding of strategies.

The Spelling Strategy, one of the Learning strategies, successfully helps (perceived) ‘poor spellers’ to improve their ability to spell.  According to NLP, ability with spelling is not a function of some kind of “spelling gene,” but is rather the result of the structure of the internal cognitive strategy one uses when one spells. Thus people who experience difficulty with spelling are not “stupid,” “lazy” or “learning disabled,” but are rather employing an inefficient or ineffective mental program.

Successful spellers typically visualize words while those who experience difficulty in spelling tend to use auditory cues – this can be a real trap in English as phonetics do not provide a reliable guide to spelling  (‘bear’ versus ‘bare’, ‘ dear’ versus ‘deer’ for examples).  Throughout my career, I have successfully used the Spelling Strategy to help ‘poor spellers’ improve their ability to spell, including with young children.  I used this strategy to help hundreds of children to overcome their difficulties with spelling[3].  This strategy can easily be embedded in teaching aids for instructors.

The Learning Strategy can also be adapted for other disciplines and subjects. I once worked with a young girl to help her with the learning her ‘times tables’ in mathematics.  Unlike the Spelling strategy that typically deals with a single word at a time, the ‘times tables’ is more complex.  I used a hypnotic trance to assist the girl to install each set of ‘times tables’.  I describe this strategy in more detail in ‘Happy Parents Happy Kids’.

Increasingly, the value of NLP as a teaching aid is being recognized among educators.  My most recent experience with this was the program I conducted in a South East Asian country a couple of years ago.   This particular project was endorsed by the Minister of Education and was created in collaboration with 5 local universities and a local NLP consulting and training company.  The attendees included lecturers, professors and faculty heads.   Since my initial training with 50 attendees, more than 500 participants have completed the course.

The overarching objective for this project was to improve the performance scores of students.  The vehicles for achieving this objective were NLP strategies and coaching skills. One of the things I enjoy about working with Asian cultures is the respect students have for their teachers.  Knowledge is a gift and Asian students appreciate the presents they are given by their teachers.  So the audience, all of whom volunteered to attend the course, was very receptive to the introduction of new concepts.  One of the challenges for me was to moderate my language and teaching style to recognize the attendees’ limited prior knowledge of specific NLP terms.   Also, participants often needed special encouragement to participate in group exercises – a recognition that local cultural norms can differ from other cultures’ degree of willingness to engage in such participation.

My business, and others who teach NLP, is centred around facilitating better communication and strategies to achieve defined outcomes.  We have been called trainers, gurus, teachers, coaches and leaders, among others. We can play with semantics and define the distinctions and skills sets of each of these labels, however the common threads are we communicate to others for the purpose of influence, conveying knowledge and skills to build capabilities in others.

As an industry, we have not been good at colleting evidence of our successes.  We need to be more systematic in the collection and analysis of data to demonstrate the value of using NLP skills and techniques to improve outcomes.  The education environment, where results are routinely captured, is a good place to start.  Of course, this will require the cooperation of education authorities but it is opportunity for them to gain recognition of the impact of a good investment.

I was delighted when Joanna Harper asked me if I would co-write an article on NLP in Education for the next Powered by NLP Book.  Writing this has re-ignited the memories of my initial light-bulb moment when I realized I wanted to work in a training environment to help bridge the communication divide.  Although I didn’t know it at the time, the inspiration for this came on the morning of May 10, 1967 in a rice paddy in Quang Nam Province, south of Da Nang Vietnam. I was just shot twice from a North Vietnamese 30 caliber machine gun and was experiencing a transition from this life to the other. Clearly I survived, with a message and an as yet undefined purpose or strategy for implementation.  This purpose led me back to the South East Asian region, to reside in Australia and to acquire a set of resources and skills, which has enabled me to share information cross-culturally.

[1]First formulated in Plans and the Structure of Behavior, 1960, George Miller, Eugene Galanter and Karl H. Pribram.

[2]R Dilts, J Grinder, R Bandler, L Bandler, J DeLozier, 1980, ‘Neuro-Linguistic Programming: The Study of the Structure of Subjective Experience, Volume 1, Meta Publications, Capitola CA

[3]I describe one case in my book ‘Happy Parents Happy Kids’, 2007


Do download, read and share both Powered by NLP books where you will find articles, reflections, and reports from both Summits authored by my friends and colleagues in the NLP Community.

~ Joanna