Crap Education


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NLP was developed in the mid-70s by John Grinder, a Professor at UC Santa Cruz and Richard Bandler, a graduate student. NLP, as most people use the term today, is a set of models of how communication impacts and is impacted by subjective experience. It's more a collection of tools than any overarching theory.

Much of early NLP was based on the work of Virginia Satir, a family therapist; Fritz Perls, founder of Gestalt therapy; Gregory Bateson, anthropologist; and Milton Erickson, hypnotist.


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 that’s 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 Church’s class was the last time I saw my copy of the Carpetbaggers!

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 a rebel.

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 school’s 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 won’t talk about the drawing of graffiti in the underground and we certainly won’t 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 didn’t. 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 don’t 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 everone’s basic right to have food shelter and education [we’ll 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 don’t 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 education system.

It’s 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. Caitlin’s 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 daughter’s 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 you’ve made me think. I ought to spend some time finding out what my daughter loves doing and what she’s good at and encourage her in that’. I smiled at the thought of having made a difference somewhere…How many other parents are convinced their children will fail because they don’t 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… I dread 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… I didn’t get to study psychology, didn’t 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 aren’t, you will feel the sense of being off kilter… many of us live with that for the rest of our lives.. how sad! But it’s not too late for our kids..

So, I’m promoting the development of a blueprint for a radical new curriculum.. it excludes all factual learning and it was inspired by Neale Donald Walsh’s 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 mother’s belly while still attached… Why do women give birth upside down, against nature…and gravity? 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 child’s 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 children’s 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 they’ve never seen another naked body.. who knows…Why 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 don’t 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 don’t 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. I’d 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 Walsh’s 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
  • Fairness
  • Tolerance
  • Awareness and responsibility
  • Science and spirituality
  • Ethical economics

I have been logging Richard Bandler’s UK practitioners for some time now, as one of my assisting duties [oh dear some of us just can’t 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 heartlessness?

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…to 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 Frazier’s 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 program.

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 living.”

When you learn BE who you truly are you will start to Do what is YOU ergo you will be you follow your own divine blueprint. I know I am beginning to more and more and it’s 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 Hero’s Journey. It goes like this.

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 can get!

Instead of teaching kids, “Life happens, struggle through because it isn’t fair - tough”, we could teach them that Life Happens, What Next? If you can’t 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 hasn’t worked for us, we are not following the basic presuppositions of NLP.. If it doesn’t 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 didn’t really want to be a chartered surveyor, but felt that unless he had a ‘good job’ he couldn’t 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 what’s 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 aren’t right for them… What a terrible thought…! I know, because I’ve 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 [she’s the sexy lady who taught flirting with Bandler in the 80’s 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




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