Learn how your brain wants to learn

Learning is a very personal process and it is different for everyone. Unfortunately, most of our formal learning systems are very rigid in the way they are expressed and funnel everyone into the same method of learning. Many of us have been squeezed into a system of education that requires us to learn how the system wants us to learn, rather than how our brain wants to learn. Some people adapt successfully to imposed learning processes, whilst others find it challenging to connect with information which is presented in a format which falls outside of their preferred learning strategy. At best, the non-adapted learner assimilates only a percentage of the presented information, at worst, they are labelled as having learning difficulties and channeled into remedial tuition or they get disheartened and just give up the learning process.


When you teach a pupil, or are taught by a teacher, are preferred learning styles taken into consideration before the lesson begins? If the answer is no, a great deal of potential learning is probably being lost in the delivery of the lesson. A great teacher is one who is able to translate ideas, both simple and complex, into a language that the pupil can understand and process in a natural and unconscious way.


So how, as a teacher or coach, do you elicit someone’s preferred learning style? Firstly, you listen. The language used by your pupil will give you a great deal of information about how they learn naturally, how their brain wants to learn.


Representational systems are how we encode our thinking, so that the information we receive makes sense to us. Most of us have one preferred representational system. The most prevalent systems are:


  • Visual – Pictures
  • Auditory – Sounds
  • Kinesthetic – Feelings
  • Auditory Digital – Self Talk


Visual learners will need to see something in order to learn efficiently. They may need to see you, the teacher, performing the exercise on their horse before they can fully understand the detail of what they are required to produce. They may need to study pictures or watch DVDs of others performing the exercise. Explaining just with language will not be compelling learning for these people.


Auditory learners will want to hear the sound of your voice. They will respond to rhythm and the sound of the horse’s hooves hitting the surface of the school, they may even enjoy a little music whilst they learn. They will be easily distracted by the sounds around them, so quite lesson times will be the most effective. Asking these people to feel the movement of the horse will not give as much clarity as asking them to listen to the rhythm of movement.


Kinesthetic learners are those people who need to physically get on and do something in order to make sense of it. They will feel the movement of the horse and of their own physiology. They want to know how the exercise should feel. Spending time talking to these types of learners will most probably just lead to frustration, they want to get on and try it out.


Learners whose preferred representational system is Auditory Digital require a detailed and logical explanation of the task in hand. They will want step by step instructions in the greatest of detail. Examples and statistics will help them to learn and they will need everything before they are asked to demonstrate an exercise themselves. Just get on and try it, or let me show you how, are not going to work for this type of learner.


What is your preferred representational system? Do you know what it is and more importantly, does you coach or teacher know and structure your training appropriately? Think about when you teach. You will probably discover that you deliver your lessons in your own preferred system of thinking, rather than that of your pupil. Imaging the results you could be getting if you taught people in the way they learn best!


In addition to our preferred representational systems, we also have strategies for learning. Eliciting a learning strategy is a more advanced form of NLP and all our delegates learn how to discover their pupil’s learning strategies when they attend the NLP Practitioner Training. We would love to welcome you to learn more.