by Peta Heskell, January 1999
I want to know why after years studying physics and chemistry all
I can remember is what a rheostat does [dimmer switch technology]
and how to change a plug.. oh yes, I also remember that Na = sodium
and that sulphuric acid really burns [and thats because I
spilt some!] !
I sat for years in my geography classes listening to Miss Church
droning on about the products and flora/fauna of faraway lands..
whilst being forced to take down her words almost verbatim, using
a dip-in pen and an inkwell .. no biros! I remember that Hawick
produces wool, and that was only because her Scottish pronunciation
of the word was so strikingly funny at the time. I also remember
that Miss Churchs class was the last time I saw my copy of
In the English classes, I spent years creating great masterpieces
of essays only to find I had been downgraded because of crossings
out and inkblots. A fine way to encourage a budding author.
I was forced to memorise useless facts and wear a uniform that
included lisle stockings, a boater hat and flannel knickers with
a pocket for my hanky. When I individualised my clothing I was called
This is what I call crap education.. and believe it or not, parents
paid good money to subject their kids to this rubbish.
I was very clever in school [that means I could REMEMBER
FACTS] and they had high hopes of me filling their expected quota
of Oxbridge students. I wanted to study psychology and they laughed
at me. Why? Well, I represented the schools worst nightmare.
On one hand I was a potentially great academic star for their portfolio
but I did the minimum amount of work to get by [my reports often
read A minus, can do better!]. On the other hand I was the ringleader
of a group who smoked, played truant to sell and make wire jewellery
in Russell Square, ran away from the games pitch, drank in the pub
underage and turned the school uniform into something resembling
St Trinians we wont talk about the drawing of graffiti
in the underground and we certainly wont talk about the hideous
practical jokes we played on teachers and other girls. For this
I was labelled a rebel.
What if the school had looked at me for who I was.. instead of
labelling me A- can do better, they could have praised me for my
good results.. Instead of labelling me a rebel troublemaker, they
could have focused on my individuality and my potential for leadership
and entertainment. Instead of down-marking me for inkblots they
should have seen through the mess to my eloquent words and nurtured
me as a great writer
They didnt. They failed me miserably.
I am lucky, I found a way to turn it round thanks to the many self
growth programmes I have taken. Many people dont and just
end up going with the murky flow downriver rather than upstream.
So, Johnny what did you learn in school today
? How many of
you have asked that question of your children and how many have
been asked that themselves
How many of us can reply, we learnt
to be nice to each other or we learnt that together we are strong
or we learnt that it is everones basic right to have food
shelter and education [well come to what kind of education
later!!] Not a lot of us,
Schools spend far too much time teaching kids facts, history dates,
chemistry symbols etc
This is crap education promoted and
encouraged by generations of governments and compliant voters. Schools
place far too much importance on academic achievement. Parents,
many of them ignorant themselves of what makes up good education,
berate their kids for not passing exams and encourage them to swot,
memorising fact after fact. Some parents remember their own awful
experiences at school and conspire with their kids to play truant.
Other parents despair because little Johnny likes to play football
instead of studying yet when he tells them of his dreams to be another
David Beckham they dash his hopes with tales of how so few succeed
in a competitive world and advise him to buckle down and work for
his exams - he might get a decent job with a pension in local government
or a bank! And most of the kids who dont succeed academically,
are discarded as no-hopers. OK, I know that things are changing,
but is it radical enough or soon enough.. and how many people are
aware of the desperate need for compete revision of the current
Its time for an alternative curriculum. Facts about anything
and everything are freely available in libraries and more so now
on the internet. Kids can find out about anything that interests
them if they are encourage do so. Learning that Hitler is an evil
man in history is not useful. Being encouraged to discover that
Hitler was helpless without all the people and governments who accepted
and supported him in his philosophy, is far more useful..
Caitlin Moran, the prodigy child author who produced her first
best seller at age 17, was removed from the formal education system
by her parents. Caitlin came from a large, not terribly rich, Irish
family. Caitlins blessing was that her parents had radical
ideas about education. They filled the house with books and encouraged
their children to discover their own bliss, allowing them to develop
their own natural talents.
Caitlin became an author, another sister became an expert on dinosaurs..
each child found that special something inside.
I was talking to a cab driver the other day who was worried about
his daughters lousy school grades. I asked him what she was
good at.. he said, she likes to draw. By the end of the journey,
he said to me You know youve made me think. I ought
to spend some time finding out what my daughter loves doing and
what shes good at and encourage her in that. I smiled
at the thought of having made a difference somewhere
other parents are convinced their children will fail because they
dont rank high up in the academic achievement list.
So many schools, like the venerable institution I attended,
encourage people to go on to further education in the form of teachers
training, because it is better than no further erducation and a
second best for those that failed to get to university
to think how many teachers out there are the product of the well
I studied for it, might as well use it syndrome. I spent 10
years working as a secretary because I took a course as a
back up, when I dropped out of University
get to study psychology, didnt try the Oxbridge exams [much
despair and hair wringing on the part of my teachers]..and I discovered
that the study of English literature was not for me! I was a lousy
secretary because I was not doing ME, and I suspect some of those
teachers are just as lousy because they are not doing THEM! Whatever
job you do it is vital that you are doing your lifework.. what is
you.. and if you arent, you will feel the sense of being off
many of us live with that for the rest of our lives..
how sad! But its not too late for our kids..
So, Im promoting the development of a blueprint for a radical
new curriculum.. it excludes all factual learning and it was inspired
by Neale Donald Walshs Conversations with God, Book 2 and
the work I have been doing with Joseph Riggio around realising your
personal myth and living from the space of who you are, completely.
Walsh asks these questions some of which I have modified and added
comments to you may want to consider them carefully?
Why do you spank children the moment they exit from the womb,
wrapping them in blankets and keeping them from their mothers? Is
this really the ideal introduction to an already violent society?
And, is this really the only way to get them to breathe.. I think
not! And why do they need to be cleaned up in preference to being
placed on their mothers belly while still attached
do women give birth upside down, against nature
What stops us from creating positive, gentle loving anchors as opposed
to creating anchors of violence and deprivation of love?
Why do you allow some of your childs earliest images to
be exposure to violence..? This one is my question! The media
is a powerful, influential, distorted and addictive force and yet
we allow it to babysit our kids.. If you were interviewing a nanny
for this job and she told you her favourite books were gruesome
tales from the crypt and that her hobby was investigating multiple
ways to bring about death and violence, and that when her friends
came round you could expect them to indulge in fist fights, stabbings
and blood letting
would you employ her.. I think not! Yet you
give the TV [chief purveyor of violence, crime, greed and anger]
pride of place in your childrens education!
Why do you teach children to be ashamed of their bodies and
their nakedness. As a child my parents were naturally naked
around the house and I never remember my father covering himself
in shame. Consequently I never had the experience of shock and horror
at seeing a penis for the first time. Why do you think children
spend time in the playground exploring each other, maybe its because
theyve never seen another naked body.. who knows
do we teach children not to touch themselves and make them afraid
of giving themselves pleasure.. What awful messages of shame
are we passing on?
What stops us from teaching children about movement and music
and the joy of art and the mystery of metaphoric fairy tales as
a reflection of the natural rhythm and beauty of life?
Why do you put kids in schools where competition is encouraged
and there is an interminable race to be best be first and slower
than average pace is barely tolerated. Richard Bandler tells his
trainee trainers to stop trying to be better than me or compete
with others and learn to measure your progress today against what
you did yesterday.
Why dont schools teach kids about dyslexic people who
have become great artists, like the guy who carved detailed
figures out of toothpicks, barely visible to the naked eye.. And
how did he discover this talent? He was lucky, he found value in
his disability.. Most dyslexics have no idea that they
have unusual gifts around perspective. Instead, they get shunted
into special classes and classed as learning disabled..And,
yes, they are disabled in a society that places value on facts more
than intuition, creativity and exploration.
Why dont kids get to learn from the beginning about critical
thinking, intuition, logic and evaluation, and how to use these
skills instead of installing in them the rules and memorised systems
of a society which has already proven itself to be unable to live
satisfactorily by these methods?
Walsh suggests that the new curriculum should have 3 core concepts.
Awareness, Honesty and Responsibility. Id add Curiosity and
a Go for It Attitude. In addition they need to learn to read and
use a computer so that they can explore facts for themselves.
Here are some of Walshs suggested courses
- Understanding Power
- Peaceful conflict resolution
- Loving relationships
- Function and interrelation of body mind and spirit
- How to learn
- Creativity and using it
- Discovering your potential
- Joyous sexual expression
- Awareness and responsibility
- Science and spirituality
- Ethical economics
I have been logging Richard Bandlers UK practitioners for
some time now, as one of my assisting duties [oh dear some of us
just cant stop finding work that is just like play!]Without
fail he manages to insert into his trances and stories the repetitive
message Go out and make someone feel good for no good reason.
What a great philosophy to live by. Instead of letting kids be inducted
by mindless installation of stupid school mottos, violent taglines,
nationalistic chants, advertising jingles or cartoon phrases, why
not install this phrase in our kids heads! Wow, imagine what would
happen. People might start being nice to each other can we
stand that as a society committed to greed, selfishness, envy and
Of course Walsh points out that many of his proposed subject is
already taught in the guise of Social Studies. BUT they only take
up a minute percentage of the curriculum. Walsh suggests these subjects
should BE the mainstay of the curriculum and I agree. Once a kid
has developed creativity and learnt how to learn, and a sense of
the wonder of each individual, and has a desire to be kind to other
people as a natural instinct, the world is their oyster.. if they
want facts they are all out there on the internet, in books etc
This is where NLP and associated sciences come in useful..
Kids can be taught some of the skills of rapport, language, second
positioning, pacing and leading, creativity processes, creating
anchors for the good times, positive self talk, affirmations etc
name a few.. I am sure you can fill in the rest!
Joseph Riggio, with whom I have recently been studying, developed
his Mythogenic Self process with influence from the work of
Joseph Campbell and Roye Fraziers Generative Imprint work
Frazier believes [and correct me if I am off track here in my simplistic
explanations] that we hold every experience somatically in our body..
and that we can relearn the ultimate state of being at our best..
and with guidance can pinpont it exactly, by making minute adjustments
to our posture, line of sight etc.. and learn to BE like that more
and more. This is the essence of the practical work Joseph taught
us to do with ourselves and clients on the Mythogenic Self Apprenticeship
Campbell says If you follow your bliss, you put yourself
on a kind of track, which has been there all the while waiting for
you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are
When you learn BE who you truly are you will start to Do what is
YOU ergo you will be happy..as you follow your own divine blueprint.
I know I am beginning to more and more and its yummy!
Campbell examines the common underlying theory and structure of
mythology all over the world. It all follows the same pattern. Campbell
outlines this in what he calls the Heros Journey. It goes
We all hear a call to adventure, many of us ignore it because we
have been taught to buckle down and accept our lot. Get a sensible
job rings in our ears, competing with the knocking. Some of us never
answer the call and die unhappy and unfulfilled. The call is always
about who you are asking to be heard. When we do answer the call,
it is because the knocking is so loud we are compelled. At that
point, a master teacher appears [remember that saying when
the student is ready the teacher appears].. then we begin our trials
and throughout magic helpers come to us.. Finally we come through
to the threshold, find the elixir and take it back.. but of course
we know that there is no holy grail just a series of journeys and
more and more elixir and before we know it we are ready for the
next call.. It takes courage, but once the leap of faith is made,
and the intent is out there, the universe conspires to assist
[This is a very barebones summary of it]
I like this because it works for me and I am currently experiencing
my latest call to adventure
and whilst I do not look back
on my trials and tribulations with regret, I do think there are
some very useful lessons that we can teach this new generation of
children that will enable them to start their journey with more
grace and more awareness of what is right for them. God knows with
the state of the world, they will need all the spiritual help they
Instead of teaching kids, Life happens, struggle through
because it isnt fair - tough, we could teach them that
Life Happens, What Next? If you cant change something move
on.. there is only living in the now then moving on..
Life is a journey and we are all unique so when we open ourselves
and our kids out to that fact and teach them the values of harmonious
living, we will truly be contributing to the evolution of the world
through the evolution of each individual to their own greatness.
If we continue to teach them what hasnt worked for us, we
are not following the basic presuppositions of NLP.. If it doesnt
work, do something else..
I had a client recently, a 21 year old student who came to see
me ostensibly for flirting tips. What he really wanted was to talk
to someone about his dreams and desires. Here he was studying to
be a chartered surveyor. A follow in the footsteps of a respected
step-father, a successful property developer. And yet what he wanted
to do was make a difference.. he was almost driven.
His plan was to study and open his own company and give lots of
money to charity.. When I worked with him, I uncovered that he didnt
really want to be a chartered surveyor, but felt that unless he
had a good job he couldnt make a difference..
he equated money and charitable donations with the only way he could
do it. Once he had expanded from his tunnel vision he realised that
he could not contribute to the world by doing work he hated.. and
that he would have to seek other paths and follow his bliss
I love my work!
And so, when you ask each kid, how are you when you are at your
best..and whats true of you like that [in a way that kids
can understand!] you will find a uniquely different answer.. and
if being at their best means writing poetry and living in poverty,
fine, and if being at their best means running a large business
fine, and if being at their best means travelling the world looking
for fauna and flora fine and if, like the lovely lady who sweeps
the road in Hammersmith [she got the British Empire Medal so I took
a chance meeting on the street to interview her] being
at your best is just looking around and seeing that she has made
a difference and feeling a pride in a street well swept wonderful!
Until we give children free rein to be themselves and provide an
education system that fosters this fully, we will continue to produce
generations of unhappy people locked into what other people think
they ought to do, taking on beliefs and values that arent
right for them
What a terrible thought
! I know, because
Ive been struggling to emerge for a long time.
It took me 40 odd years to travel my path, rewrite the old programmes,
gain courage and attitude and create new programmes, to believe
in me being me and to find my way
perhaps we can help the
next generations of kids to find their bliss a little more quickly!!!
Peta Heskell is the Director of the UK Flirting Academy and a survivor
of a crap education system. She believes her flirting seminars have
so many takers because far too many people have had all their natural
spark drained out of them by bad parenting, lousy role models and
crap education! Peta is a Licensed trainer of NLP and a consummate
networker, author [first book due out this autumn] and regular media
broadcaster. Peta will be hosting Flirtopia in Orlando in September
with co-trainer Jonathan Altfeld and guest Anne Teachworth [shes
the sexy lady who taught flirting with Bandler in the 80s
and is now director of the Gestalt Institute!]. Peta She can be
contacted on +44 (0) 700 4 354 784 or check out her website at www.flirtzone.com.