(by David Lewis)

The Brain SellQuick Q: What is the McDonald’s slogan? That’s right – ‘I’m loving it!’ Now ask yourself: why is it not ‘You’re loving it?’ After all, this is the company talking, right? But here is the thing: every time you repeat that you persuade yourself! (p. 157)

Self-persuasion is only one of many, many ideas from the world of psychology and advertising that we can find in this book – and apply them in our field as well! If you get your students to talk about the benefits of, say, singing along to songs or listening to BBC News, they may well come to believe themselves. Here are some more:

Pictures (p. 47): if a picture is included alongside a text, the brain processes the info more easily and swiftly. Moral: add pictures to your texts!

Arousal (p. 27): heightened arousal contributes to positive feelings (a spill-over effect). Moral: if we include high-arousal activities in our lessons (e.g. debates – competitions – games like ‘wall dictation’) students will like our lessons more.

Change (p. 205): the brain notices changes; if things are ‘normal’ it runs on auto-pilot. Commercials employ rapid cuts and fast motion to ‘wake us up’. Moral: Short, fast tasks and a change in the nature of activities means that students are more alert and they retain more.

Rationale (p. 158): advertisers routinely translate product features into benefits (‘X has Y, which means Z’). There is a good reason for this. Moral: Explain the rationale behind the activities to students. What is obvious to us, is not necessarily obvious to them.

Technology (p. 39): “most people lack the time or the patience to go up a long learning curve with a new device”. This goes for both students and trainee teachers. Moral: Technology should be a means to an end for us teachers. Keep it simple.

Feedback (p. 50): Findings from Market Research suggests that many people do not know how they feel or what they think about things – or they will give you the ‘right’ answer or the one they think you want. Moral: ‘Don’t ask – can’t tell’. For feedback it is often best to rely on indirect methods.

Negative Feedback (p. 120): How do we handle negative feedback (from students / parents)? Perhaps we could use the Apple ‘Feel – Felt – Found’ technique: ‘I know how you feel, I felt the same in the past… but now I have found…’ Excellent! 🙂  Moral: Notice the ju-jitsu technique – you do not contradict them directly!

‘Miryokuteki Hinshitsu’: What blew my mind away completely however was a distinction between two terms in Japanese: ‘Atarimae Hinshitsu’ vs ‘Miryokuteki Hinshitsu’ (p. 247); the former describes ‘standard service’, the latter what makes you go ‘WoW!’. Our goal should be ‘WoW teaching’. Any day.