Why are schools not interested in the vital contribution mental imagery makes to our ability to think and learn, when mental imagery has been extensively used for sports performance for at least the last 10 years? The simple answer is that no Teacher or Educational Psychologist training includes this vital topic.
How do you think that Tom Daley does all those somersaults off the diving board? How is Jonny Wilkinson’s record on the Rugby pitch so good? How do top Formula 1 racing drivers remember the exact geography of a race track, when they are going so fast? They have finely tuned mental imagery skills and they use this skills to rehearse their particular sport, paying special attention to the difficult bits, their success, etc.
So why is mental imagery not even on the curriculum in school? And why is there so much resistance to including this vital skill. You can research this topic for years and meanwhile more and more children are falling behind, just because they have not be trained in how to use their mental imagery for literacy, numeracy, concentration, short and long term memory etc. The people who are successful are already using these skills and getting a head-start on everyone else. They have picked them up naturally and by luck. There is nothing wrong with the children who haven’t they just have not learnt the skill.
When we learn to walk we watch others and we try to copy them, we don’t read a long manual and we don’t give up and decide walking is not for us. We watch and then try it out for ourselves, get feedback from our body and try again. At Empowering Learning we have spent the last 8 years studying how people without learning difficulties do what they do. We have looked at fluent readers, proof readers, mathematical experts, memory experts and the skill they all have is excellent mental imagery. Teaching children or adults to have excellent mental imagery takes minutes, not months and the irony is that everyone can do it. We recognise our parents at 6 weeks old, all we need to do is to learn how to use this same skill for words, numbers, concentration, short and long term memory, comprehension, sequencing…the list goes on. This is a skill essential for how we think and learn visually.
The terrible thing is that it is always the most creative and imaginative children who get most confused, because they have fabulous visual skills but don’t realise how to use these same skills for literacy and numeracy. When asked to imagine a cat one child may see just one and its calm whereas another child may see 50 and they are all fighting – this often leads to an ADHD diagnosis. The child looks terrified and in never going to learn in that state. Who do you think is going to be able to concentrate better? Teaching this child to keep her creative brain under control when she wants is simple.
With the year 7 pupil premium in England we have a great opportunity to redress this omission in our children’s education before it is too late. The government has published the statistics that if children under perform in year 7 they only have a 5% chance of 5 GCSEs.
Sign up for information on the year 7 catch up programme http://www.catchup7.co.uk, even if you are not in this year at school, or outside the UK. We will send you more information about mental imagery for learning. We have over 50 Empowering Practitioners on hand to engage with schools in the UK and several more around the world. There is no charge to take up this offer and see how you can benefit those in your community.
So why are schools not interested in teaching this vital skill? It is simply that the teachers have not be trained. Our training takes just 1 day and can be done in person or on-line. With this knowledge you will be able to assist people with Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, ADHD, Dysgraphia, Aspergers, Autism and many non-specific learning difficulties. This minimal investment in your time can change the world for those you love and care for.