I remember when I entered high school, many decades ago, I had an experience with a rigid and unsympathetic teacher who taught Mathematics and Physics. Just his presence induced such a state in me that I could only describe as a mixture of fear-insecurity-low self-esteem. Every time the bell rang announcing the end of recess and I knew I would see him, my heart started pounding rapidly, I felt a knot in my stomach, and my hands began to sweat. I entered the classroom in this deplorable state, and of course, my mind would cloud over. This teacher had the practice of pulling out a little notebook where he wrote down the names of the students and asked us a random question to start the topic. I prayed to God that he wouldn’t call my name, but I didn’t always have this luck and, indeed, he called me, asked me the question, and I didn’t even understand it, which led to him raising his thick eyebrows that protruded from his glasses and making the expression that I interpreted as, “How foolish!”

On the other side of the classroom, however, was the star student who showed an attitude of understanding everything, even leaning forward in a posture of curiosity and interest in the topic being discussed. Again, of course, he was the teacher’s favorite student with whom he interacted joyfully, answering the questions posed by my classmate.

This is a story that I never get tire of telling in my workshops for Transforming Leaders because I feel it exemplifies excellently the importance of what NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) calls neuro-linguistic states. These, in everyday language, can be equivalent to disposition, mood, and attitude towards something specific. That is, how I feel about a particular situation in my daily life since we jump from one state to another in a matter of seconds, and depending on them, we feel whether we have had a good day or not. The sum of these states day by day results in the quality of life we lead.

The topic of states lends itself to many reflections, but today I want to make a special mention of the importance of having the right states so that your mind opens up, or not, to new learnings. Even more so when it comes to complex topics. If the teacher were aware of his responsibility to induce suitable states for the complex topics he was dealing with, the story would probably have been different. In fact, some time ago, I found notebooks from middle school, before I started with this teacher, and my grades were above average. However, these later episodes ingrained in my whole being that I was foolish with numbers, and I grew up embracing this belief, which created a very negative reality for me.

How to interpret this?

That depending on the state the student is in, so is their ability to understand what is being taught and their openness to receiving the learning. Therefore, every educator must be very responsible in inducing states of curiosity, interest, and openness before starting their class because that way they have a greater chance that their students will have the desire to learn and succeed. If a person can create useful states that reinforce their thoughts about themselves, they have a high probability of learning easily and in a fun way.