NLP and Learning Styles

NLP and Learning Styles

NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) is currently big business. And it’s being applied to more and more areas of our working lives – just check out the latest NLP book titles on Amazon. Some people I know swear by NLP. Consultants and coaches are particularly keen on employing NLP techniques and they are being applied in a wide range of disciplines from sales training to education. I’m not an expert on NLP – I’ve just read a couple of books and articles on the subject but I can see its attraction – meta models, chunking and re-framing are all so ‘obvious’ once you sign-up to the concept, and are great for adding to your repertoire of management speak. But the following article in a recent edition of Education Guardian sounded a note of caution:

"..proto-science of NLP. A system devised by a Californian. Learning styles are cobblers. There is no proof that children have such preferences. They are of use only in describing styles of input, not in terms of describing a child’s hard wired bias for one style over the other."
Philip Beadle, Education Guardian 3 Oct 2006

The NLP entry on Wikipedia is substantial and ultimately quite complex, and peppered with warnings about lack of objectivity (and sometimes likened to astrology). So beware NLP lovers, don’t overestimate the power of proto-science. Having said that, I do like the insights that NLP gives us and as a working hypothesis it appears to provide some useful tools for working with people in a variety of contexts. I’m also keen to investigate the application of NLP to learning more closely (keeping in mind of course the warning from Philip Beadle).

Talking of proto-science another really interesting take on all this pseusdo-science is at Bad Science.

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