Learning is the process of acquiring new thinking patterns and behavioral capabilities. In NLP, a learning strategy is the syntax of steps one takes in order to learn. There are many learning strategies, of course, and some of them are not very effective.
Effective learning works within a feedback loop, or the T.O.T.E. model in NLP. In order to define a learning strategy, we would need to identify and organize the usage of representational systems (rep systems) a person is using in order to learn effectively. More importantly, we should identify which representational system gets the most use during the learning session. This is modeling in essence, but on a much smaller scale than other skills. The reason that people differ as to what learning strategies are most useful to them is that people are different! I am not surprised that I could do so well in literature in high school but almost failed in math. My literature teacher spoke in a language that made sense to me. She spoke using visual predicates mostly and she used every metaphor she could in order to explain a theme. My math teacher, however, was a very stubborn kinesthetic oriented person. She spoke of numbers in the dullest way, and the only explanation she had as to why an arithmetic rule works as it is, was, “that’s the way it is.” However, it was my responsibility to develop a learning strategy that would help me with math. Apparently I didn’t, because I almost failed in that class.
My best friend in high school, though, had exactly the opposite experience. She was thrilled about math classes, couldn’t wait to solve those complex trigonometric problems, and her aversion to literature classes was well known. She had a very different learning strategy than myself. The problem with both us was that we used the SAME strategy (each one respectively) on two different subjects. I used my successful literature learning strategy in math, which proved to be ineffective, and she used her successful math learning strategy in literature, and again that has proven to be the wrong approach.
The purpose of NLP is to elicit as many successful learning strategies as possible, so that you will always have the freedom and flexibility to move from one to another according to whatever is more effective for your outcome. The development of the awareness and ability to elicit your own successful learning strategies is called “Learning II” in NLP. It means, “learning to learn.”
The more you know about your own successful learning strategies, the more effective you will be in using, modifying and improving your capabilities.
This technique will help you uncover the syntax you’re using to successfully learn something. You can also use it, of course, to model another person’s learning strategy and try it out for yourself.
Select the learning subject you were successful in.
Any subject you’re good at will do just fine. If you find it much easier to learn literature, as I did in high-school, for whatever reason, write that one down.
If it’s math, history, general knowledge, logic, languages, or whatever else, make sure you have only one subject in mind.
If you can’t find a specific subject that you’re good at, chunk down to micro-skills.
Search your past experience for times in which you learned anything fast and effortlessly.
List your goals and outcomes.
What were your outcomes in regards to this subject? What were your goals when you approached the learning of this subject?
What was your evidence procedure to know that you have completed successfully the outcome in this subject? For example, if your strongest subject was math, How did you know you were successful in achieving an outcome?
Was it the passing of an exam or simply the solution of a math problem within a given time?
List the actions you took.
What were the actual steps you took when you started working on achieving this outcome?
Did you do anything unique about this subject, that you did not do for other learning outcomes?
Problem solving activities.
As with any learning opportunity, problems and challenges are always present and might disturb our learning.
What did you do in order to solve minute-to-minute problems that interfered with your excellent learning mode?
Consider which rep system you used the most.
Look back at your answers to the steps above and see if you can notice which representational system you used the most.
Elicit your rep system’s syntax.
Use the following questions to elicit the actual strategy you have used.
Refer to your answers to the previous steps, of course, since you’ve already done most of the groundwork there already:
What has stimulated you to learn effectively?
Did you see, hear, feel, or otherwise sense a cause?
Perhaps you digitally said something to yourself (inner voice), and if so, what is the content of that message?
How did you represent your outcome for learning this subject in your mind?
Did you visualize an image of yourself “knowing” or “excelling an exam”?
Did you visualize an image of yourself associated or dissociated (i.e. Did you see your notebook or did you see yourself looking at the notebook)?
Did you remember the outcome as an image from past successful events?
Did you say the outcome to yourself, and if so, how did it sound?
Did you feel the outcome or sense the assurance that this outcome is about to be reality?
If so, how did it manifest itself in your body?
How did you know that you’re making progress (evidence procedure)?
Did you perceive external visual information (physically) or internal visual information (imagination)?
And what was it exactly?
Did you need to hear that you’ve made progress (perhaps a teacher congratulating you for accomplishing a task, or your parents being proud that you got an “A”)?
Was it something you said to yourself or something that another person told you?
Which actions did you take for reaching this outcome?
Did you analyze, organize, re-organize, talk to yourself, have intuition, visualize, touch, sense, discuss, listen, move, draw, watch, take notes, or feel certain emotions?
Was it in any combination of the above?
What was the syntax or order of these actions in respect to the actual process of achieving the outcome?
How did you respond to minute problems? You can use the long list above (analyze, organize, re-organize, etc.)
What other questions could you ask yourself to complete this strategy and make it as accurate and close to reality as possible?
Notice any improvements to your ability to learn the subject you chose.