Article by Sharyn Collins | 1 August 2020
I first met Samay when he was nine years old. Sadly he had just failed an entrance exam to a private grammar school in England and his father had brought him to me for help with his maths as he wanted Samay to take the entrance exam again when he was eleven. I am a language trainer but I really enjoy teaching maths too; both subjects have much in common as although they have rules which must be learnt and applied, there is also room for creativity.
I felt so sorry for Samay and very angry to learn that at nine years old, this little boy felt a failure in any way at all. To me, this is not what life is about. I tested his maths and discovered that he was indeed weak but even worse, his confidence had been shattered. I agreed to help him but I insisted that I see this little boy twice a week as he would also have to pass an English and a verbal reasoning paper in the same entrance exam just before his eleventh birthday.
I also decided that as I had now taken the Neurolanguage training course with Rachel Paling, I would attempt to apply the knowledge that I had learnt with her.
Samay and I started and I found myself teaching in quite a different way. I started off gentler rather than going in with all guns blazing as I would have done in the past. I settled and calmed him down at the beginning of each session. We talked about how his brain felt and I “listened to his brain”. I noticed when he was stressed, when he didn’t know things or when he was trying too hard to please me. I noticed when he was fatigued and when it was time to switch to another way or have a brain break. All in all, I learnt about him. We set goals together and celebrated when we had achieved them. After almost 15 months we started doing sample exam papers and by the time the exam came round he was ready. I had full confidence in his ability and more than that Samay had confidence in himself.
Three weeks after Samay had taken the exam and had undergone quite a tough interview, he appeared at my door with flowers and chocolates and a thank you card. Although over 150 children had taken the exam, Samay had gained one of the thirty places on offer at a prestigious grammar school from where he would now probably go to Oxford or Cambridge. My job was done and Samay would never feel like a failure again.
Now, for all of you out there who are asking the question whether Samay’s father has to pay for the privilege of being at this elite school, the answer is “absolutely”. There are no scholarships or free places as the competition is so high. In fact, the school fees are extremely high which sadly means the best education in Britain lies mostly in the hands of the rich or the very hard working who are prepared to forego the many pleasures in life such as holidays or a decent car. Sadly many of the British state schools suffer greatly from lack of investment and especially in the North of England where I live. There are, I am happy to say, some exceptions but in general, Private schools produce the best results.
If you have ever listened to question time in the English Parliament you will not be surprised to hear that almost 90 per cent of the Conservative Party politicians went to private schools and most of the Cabinet went to Oxford or Cambridge too.
Anyway back to young Samay. I loved the fact that I had an alternate way to teach him and that I had the luxury of time in which to do it. Now that the pressure is off, I am just about to start a six-hour course with him to prepare him for school by teaching him a bit of Latin.
Latin isn’t taught in state schools but is still alive and kicking in most of the private educational establishments and for me, teaching Latin is sheer joy; we can talk about the Romans and gladiators and chariots and learn a bit of the language at the same time.
So, by teaching Samay his maths, I discovered that Neurolanguage coaching can be applied to more subjects than just languages. Being more aware of his brain and how it functioned and impacted on his learning helped me to help him. I have also discovered that Neurolanguage coaching means Neurolanguage Communication and once I realized that, I realized that there is a path into everyone’s brain. It’s just a question of being interested and dedicated enough to find it.