Blog Other

Effective Language Patterns for the Classroom (Handout now available)

Recently, I did a conference presentation at PanSIG 2013 in Nagoya, Japan. Presenting with me were Brad Deacon, Ben Backwell, and Sarah Mulvey. We had a lovely session sharing some basic language patterns that teachers can use to connect with their students more closely, to create motivation, and to instill beliefs that will help students to learn more easily.
Here is our handout from the presentation. It’s not quite the same as being there, of course, and we hope to see you at a future presentation. In the meantime, please feel free to enjoy this taster or to pass it on to teachers who can use it usefully to help students to learn.
130515_PanSig2013 – Handout – Effective Language Patterns in the Classroom

Other Stories

Eating Toast

And we ALL have our own rigidities without knowing it. I recall eating breakfast in a hotel in Chicago with a colleague who watched me eat my toast in ABSOLUTE horror. I could see the horror in his face. I didn’t know what it meant.. . the TOAST was good! Finally he said, “What is the matter with you, haven’t you got any table manners of ANY sort?” I said, “Why do you ask?” “You buttered that toast, broke it in two, and now you are eating half of it.” I said, “That’s right … it tastes very good.” He said, “The PROPER way is you CUT your slice of toast in four parts and you pick each up separately and eat it.” I asked him why and he said, “because that’s the only WAY to eat toast!” So the next morning I ate my toast by the WHOLE toast without breaking it in half. He finally learned to eat toast comfortably.

Other Stories

Bleeding Badly

One day Dr Milton Erickson’s young son, Robert, fell on the sidewalk out side their home. He cut his mouth and was bleeding heavily when his parents arrived on the scene, alerted by his cries of pain and fear.
Erickson immediately said, “Robert, it hurts. It hurts real bad. Real bad. I wonder when it’s going to stop hurting. Right now it hurts; it just hurts. When is it going to stop hurting?” This caught Robert’s attention.
At first, he was only attending to the pain, but now he also began wondering when the pain would stop. He stopped crying as he wondered about that. By that time, his parents had gotten him to the bathroom, where they were washing his mouth so Erickson could determine whether or not stitches would be required. As the blood ran from Robert’s mouth into the sink, Erickson said to his wife. “Look at that blood, Mother. That’s good red healthy blood! That’ll clean that wound out really well. Look at the color of that blood.”
Of course, Robert was also looking at the blood. Instead of being captured by his pain and fear, he was fascinated attending to his “good red healthy blood.” After the wound was washed out, it became clear that Robert would need stitches.
So Erickson began to tell Robert that he needed stitches and reminded him that his brother had gotten stitches last year when he had been hurt. “I wonder whether you are going to win the stitches contest, Robert, and get more than your brother got. He had six stitches. All you would need is seven to win the contest.”
When they arrived at the emergency room, the attending physician was amazed at how quietly this young boy sat while he was being cleaned and stitched up. All Robert said through his stitched-up mouth at the end of the procedure was “How many stitches did I get?” “Nine,” he was told. And
he gave a lopsided smile through the wound.
That is the power of changing your attention.

Other Stories

The Arrow

There’s an ancient story about a man shot with a poison arrow. What should be his main concern, who shot him or getting the arrow out? What about when others shoot us with insults? Isn’t it more important to get rid of the discomfort than to to be concerned with who hurt us?
When people feel hurt inside, they often strike out at those close to them. It’s like when you stub your toe and yell. It’s best not to take it personally. It doesn’t have to become your story. No one can make us feel any way that we don’t want to feel. So, it’s really about going deep within ourselves to get the arrow out. Also, get out of target range.
It only lingers because you haven’t stopped telling your story. It’s really pretty simple.

Other Stories

A Different Approach

A wise old gentleman retired and purchased a modest home near a school. He spent the first few weeks of his retirement in peace and contentment. Then the new school year began. The very next afternoon three young boys, full of youthful, after-school enthusiasm, came down his street, beating merrily on every dustbin they encountered. The crashing percussion continued day after day, until finally the wise old man decided it was time to take some action.
The next afternoon, he walked out to meet the young percussionists as they banged their way down the street. Stopping them, he said, “You kids are a lot of fun. I like to see you express your exuberance like that. In fact, I used to do the same thing when I was your age. Will you do me a favour? I’ll give you each a dollar if you’ll promise to come around every day and do your thing.” The kids were elated and continued to do a bang-up job on the trashcans.
After a few days, the old-timer greeted the kids again, but this time he had a sad smile on his face. “This recessions really putting a big dent in my income,” he told them. “From now on, I’ll only be able to pay you 50 cents to beat on the cans.” The noisemakers were obviously displeased, but they accepted his offer and continued their afternoon ruckus. A few days later, the wily retiree approached them again as they drummed their way down the street.
“Look,” he said, “I haven’t received my Social Security check yet, so I’m not going to be able to give you more than 25 cents. Will that be okay?” “A quarter?” the drum leader exclaimed. “If you think were going to waste our time, beating these cans around for a quarter, you’re mad! No way, we quit!” And the old man enjoyed peace and serenity for the rest of his days.

Other Stories

You Won't See Another Sunset

As I lay in bed that night, I overheard the three doctors tell my parents in the other room that their boy would be dead in the morning. I felt intense anger that anyone should tell a mother her boy would be dead by morning. My mother then came in with as serene a face as can be. I asked her to arrange the dresser, push it up against the side of the bed at an angle. She did not understand why, she thought I was delirious. My speech was difficult. But at that angle by virtue of the mirror on the dresser I could see through the doorway, through the west window of the other room. I was damned if I would die without seeing one more sunset. If I had any skill in drawing, I could still sketch that sunset.
R: Your anger and wanting to see another sunset was a way you kept yourself alive through that critical day in spite of the doctors’ predictions. But why do you call that an autohypnotic experience?
E: I saw that vast sunset covering the whole sky. But I know there was also a tree there outside the window, but I blocked it out. R: You blocked it out? It was that selective perception that enables you to say you were in an altered state?
E: Yes, I did not do it consciously. I saw all the sunset, but I didn’t see the fence and large boulder that were there. I blocked out everything except the sunset. After I saw the sunset, I lost consciousness for three days. When I finally awakened, I asked my father why they had taken out that fence, tree, and boulder. I did not realize I had blotted them out when I fixed my attention so intensely on the sunset. Then, as I recovered and became aware of my lack of abilities, I wondered how I was going to earn a living. I had already published a paper in a national agricultural journal. “Why Young Folks Leave the Farm.” I no longer had the strength to be a farmer, but maybe I could make it as a doctor.

Other Stories

The Old Coin

An unemployed father of four walks towards his nearest town in search of paid work, as he has done every day for the past few months. Bills are piling up and his wife is getting depressed. His toes kicked something and bending down he picked up an old coin.
Arriving at the town he took it to a coin collector who paid him £30 for his find. Passing a hardware store he saw some wood and decided he would build his wife the shelves she had been asking for. On the journey home he was stopped by a furniture maker who offered him £100 for the wood and also a new cupboard for his kitchen. Carrying the cupboard home he passed a house which was being upgraded and the owner offered him £150 for the cupboard which he accepted.
Pleased with his fortune he stood at the gate of his house counting the cash when a man with a knife accosted him, took the cash and ran off. Seeing the attack from the kitchen window his wife rushed out, “Are you all right?” she cried. “What did he take?”.
The man shrugged his shoulders and said “Oh it was just some battered old coin I stumbled across this morning”

Other Stories

The Beast

Many years ago there existed a village, tucked away in a remote part of the world. The village was in a deep valley surrounded by gentle green hills. The vegetation was rich and fertile and everyone wjo lived in the village had all the food and water they needed. The animals that belonged to the villagers roamed free and the children palyed happily in the warm sunshine.
One day, a strange beast crept over the top of the hill. The villagers had never seen such a weird creature before and they threw spears at the creature, to no avail. The creature stayed where it was until dusk when it sloped away into the dark.
Everyday at the dawn the beast would reappear and sit at the entrance to the valley. And every day at dusk it would return to the hills.
Over time the villagers grew used to the beast and they would feed it as they walked to work in the fields with their children. The children played happily in the fields, laughing and shouting. Gradually they approached the beast, and pushed and prodded it. The older villagers warned them to stop but they took no notice.
One day a little girl threw a large rock at the beast, who howled in pain and turned and ran off to the hills. It did not return. The villagers became silent and sad and the little girl was upset.
Several years passed. The villagers had almost forgotten about the beast when it reappeared, bigger and older, lumbering over the hill and into the valley. The villagers were glad. When the little girl saw the beast again she ran up to it and kissed it. She knew exactly what she would do next…

Other Stories

Patterns of Behaviour

The Patterns of Behavior Now human beings being human tend to react in patterns and to be governed by patterns of behavior. And once you’ve started a pattern of behavior they tend to follow it. You don’t realize how very rigidly patterned all of us really are. In Fort Benning, Georgia I was there training the advanced marksmanship team for the events of the rifle team in the International Shoot. And I was dining in the mess hall with two lieutenants and several people came in and I watched one girl pick up her tray and look around the mess room for a suitable table. She walked past several tables where there were the possibility of her sitting down . . . and she sat down at a table where she could sit on the west side of it. I told the lieutenants, “That girl is an only child.” They said, “How do you know?” “I’ll tell you after you verify the fact.” They went out, asked her if she were an only child . . . and she said, “yes”. She wanted to know why? They said, “That doctor over there said you were.” “Who is he?” They gave her my name. “I never heard of him.” Came back . . . how did I know she was an only child? She was looking around the restaurant looking for a table where she could sit down and she had to find a table where the west side of the table was available. So at home papa sat here, mama sat here, she had to sit here. People have many patterns in their behavior—don’t try to formulate what those patterns are. Wait and see how they disclose themselves.