NLP for Education

Neuro-linguistic programming is a method for modelling excellence. It is the study of how we do what we do, especially the behaviour that works well. By studying thinking patterns and behaviours that create excellent outcomes, NLP professionals can teach other people strategies for achieving their own best outcomes. These goals range from personal (such as improving self-confidence, quitting an addiction, resolving trauma and health problems, becoming happier...) through to corporate success (such as increasing sales, improving public speaking, developing better marketing strategies, creating better workplace dynamics). NLP supporters love NLP because it creates rapid change by providing tangible steps for a person or an organisation to put in place to create great outcomes.

How NLP may be useful in Education

NLP brings together a range of tools that directly affect how we are thinking and feeling in any given moment. This includes powerful models which enhance how we communicate with others – both consciously and unconsciously. For this reason there are a myriad of useful ways it can be applied to both teaching and learning. This is true in all sectors: early childhood, primary, secondary as well as tertiary level and workplace training. It’s also useful for parents who wish to be actively involved in their child’s education.

Probably the most significant way that NLP can assist both educators and learners is by helping them to teach and to learn in a way that honours their own learning style. At the same time, NLP shows human beings how to bridge the gap and cater to the workstyle and learning-style of others. Being able to stay motivated under pressure is not only something that affects students but is a high priority for educators as well. Modern education is very challenging with the demands of internal assessment being but one factor that has radically altered the workload of teachers and students in recent decades.

Some of the most common issues that educators and learners can find NLP useful are:

  • Accelerated Learning

  • Overcoming fear of speeches/public speaking

  • Effective Learning Strategies

  • Self confidence

  • Bullying and peer interaction

  • Fear of the future

  • Career direction

  • Course selection

  • Social anxiety

  • Resolving parental anxiety

  • Enhancing relationship with children and teens

  • Setting goals together

  • Treating ‘resistance’ as a friend/information

  • Supporting learning on all levels

  • Modelling wellbeing, confidence and self-acceptance

  • Resolving unconscious family patterns

  • Authentic, vulnerable communication

  • Prioritising relationship over discipline

  • Resolving one’s own childhood hurts

  • Creating new ‘unconscious’ family patterns

  • Healing hurts and conflict with partners and ex-partners

  • Empowering your children for the world they will face

  • Classroom Leadership (guiding learner behaviour)

  • Positive Classroom Atmosphere (through specific language patterns)

  • Responding to learner resistance

  • Building powerful rapport with learners and colleagues

  • Resilient states of mind during adversity

  • Catering to learning styles

  • Resolving conflicts between students

  • Responding to stressed students, parents and colleagues

  • Resolving conflicts with parents

  • Negotiating win-win outcomes (NLP based Transforming Communication Course)

  • Engaging learners at the unconscious level

  • Modelling and repeating one’s own success

  • Influencing colleagues in positive ways

  • Generating positive workplace culture

  • Programming one’s own mind for effective interactions

  • Modelling wellbeing, confidence and self-acceptance to learners

  • Enjoying the job more on the hard days

  • Figuring out when and how to ‘take a break’ (or sabbatical)


NLP Technique for Education


Maybe you’re looking for ways to stay calm on busy days or perhaps you want to respond more effectively to conflict; or is staying motivated an issue for you? Or, you really wish you could be less distracted and concentrate more easily?  Or, you’re wondering how to build more rapport with students or colleagues? Or, you’d like to know how to accelerate the speed at which you learn and the ease with which you retain information? Here is a deceptively simple technique you can use to get a new perspective on almost any issue that bugs you, including overwhelm and high workload:

Core Transforming Questions

Pre-frame: Often in the back of the mind there is a question being asked, consciously, or unconsciously, that is guiding other thought processes (visual, verbal and emotional). The question creates a ‘search’ – a bit like putting a question into ‘Google’. If you put in a different question, Google will produce different answers – even if you only change one word in that question.


1.  Imagine yourself in the role of teacher, strolling around a classroom looking over the shoulders of students to check their progress. You then noticing one student in particular. Take a moment to consider this question:


How intelligent is this student?


2.  Now notice the sensations in your body as you take 30 seconds or so to ponder the effect of that question, in particular, the degree of lightness or heaviness or tension that occurs.


3.  Now imagine you are a student and the teacher walking past you, checking your work, is thinking that question silently to themselves. What do you notice about their body language, facial expression and the general ‘vibe’ you sense from them? In the role of ‘student’, what sensations do you feel? How, empowered do you feel? On a scale of 1 to 10, how empowered/seen do feel?


Typically people say that in the role of student they notice a feeling of being ‘ranked’ or ‘judged’ followed by feelings of shame, humiliation, or resentment – perhaps wanting to rebel. It feels like something is ‘in between them’.

4.  Now imagine changing the question. This time ask:


“How is THIS student intelligent”?


“What strengths are evident here”?

In the role of teacher, notice how the sensations in your body are different now? What possibilities open up, what do you notice that you did not notice before?


5.  In the role of student, notice how you feel about the teacher as you imagine them walking past you now? What is different about their vibe? Are they more approachable or less approachable than before? How do you feel in their presence? On a scale of 1 to 10, how empowered/seen do you feel? Is that higher or lower than before?


Core Transforming Questions is a technique that not only transforms the though processes present during an interaction, but typically it also transforms the emotional energy that people perceive emerging from a person. It causes the mind to search for different images, sounds, words and feelings, and to widen a perspective from one which is limited, to one which is empowering, creative and dynamic.


NLP Technique for Education

In the video below, you will see how questions cause the mind to search for answers by the way the eyes move in response to a question. It’s fascinating, to me. It transformed my learning as well as my teaching.


Research About NLP in Education

Colors in English

A comprehensive analysis of the research done thus far, as well as areas requiring further research, in terms of how NLP applies to classroom education. This is published by the CfBT Education Trust in the UK. Although cautioning practitioners in the field of NLP to ensure they adjust their terminology to align with scientific evidence about the brain, the authors nevertheless conclude that: “there would appear to be benefit in teaching elements of NLP to teachers and indeed to children. Specifically, teachers in this study reported benefits that may offer ways to support those students who are struggling in the areas of self-motivation and the control of impulsivity (both of which were identified as significant for attainment by Rodeiro, Bell and Emery, 2009)”.

A study with two control groups of Iranian EFL students – one group received an NLP based approach to learning and the other did not. The former group showed more progress:

The results…indicated that the young Iranian EFL learners of English not only increased on their motivation level as a result of receiving NLP techniques, but showed a considerable improvement in EFL proficiency. Furthermore, NLP techniques contributed positively to teacher's success…”.


Books About NLP for Education

NLP for Teachers

Richard Churches is ‘Principal Consultant for National Programmes at CdBT Education Trust, the world-leading education consultancy based in the UK’.  Roger Terry ‘is an Intenration NLP Master Trainer and public speaker’.  This book introduces teachers to key NLP techniques they can use to enhance the quality of their classroom interactions through positive language patterns, attention to body language and specific ways to increase student rapport and engagement. It also outlines ways to plan lessons around ‘emotional learning’ to increase student motivation.

Confident Classroom Leadership

‘Peter Hook and Andy Vass are two of the foremost trainers in behaviour management in the United Kingdom. Both run successful training and consultancy organisations and have worked with over 300 schools…’.  This book is a powerful reframe on the traditional notion of classroom management. By using the term ‘classroom leadership’ it suggests an altogether different approach that is relationship centred rather than control focussed. Recommended to me by a Principal when I was dealing with particularly challenging classes, I have found it’s focus on building the inner mindscape of the teacher invaluable – it’s thesis is that it is the underlying beliefs, attitudes and philosophies of the teacher that focus the choice of words that students ultimately get to hear and therefore feel – and what they need to feel is good about themselves, good about their teacher and good about learning. I highly recommend this book since even though I was already an NLP Practitioner when I became a teacher, I struggled to apply NLP to the classroom – but it was this book that helped me do it.