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Learning maths through dance

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) deals with “anchors” quite a lot - those things (noises, smells, sounds, words and so on) that are subconsciously linked with certain of our thoughts, emotional states and responses. As therapy, unpacking these linkages, where they are unhelpful, can be incredibly useful. There is another side to anchors though - using the power that they have to positive effect.

I was reminded of this whilst listening to my daughter learning her times-tables earlier this week, because she was singing them and creating different tunes for the different tables. She commented how much easier it was to remember them if they had a tune with them.

Another great example was on TV about 6 months ago. A member of the public was describing a teaching mechanism that her maths teacher used to educate the class on the principle of mediation.

Without going (too) deeply into the mathematics and statistics, statistical mediation looks at how the effect of an independent variable on a dependent variable can be seen through a third variable (if it can’t be seen directly). The mediating variable transmits the effect between the other two.

The teacher used dance to explain this. He made dance moves at one side of the classroom, with a pupil at the other side facing him. A second pupil had his back to the teacher, but was facing the first pupil. The teacher’s (independent variable) dance moves were “transmitted” through the first pupil (the mediating variable) to the second (the dependent variable).

Aside from the mathematics(!), the best thing about this approach was that, years later, the pupils clearly remembered this rather obscure aspect of statistics. The teacher had created a powerful “anchor” for the lesson, which made it particularly memorable.

The creation of anchors really works. As a training company, there are a number of things that we do to ensure that our training has genuinely long-lasting effects (see here for more on this). These include:

All of these things, and more, are used with one specific purpose - to ensure that our training is more than a nice day or few days out, but actually makes a sustainable difference.


In a later blog, I’m going to discuss a little more about anchors, but I touched on them in a slightly different context here, so, in the meantime, take a look!

Remember, to get people to remember, be memorable!

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