Book corner: Fish Can’t Climb Trees

Helyn Connerr’s Mercury Model theory is based on the idea that we all learn differently

Even in today’s world where great emphasis is placed on sharing information, people still struggle to communicate, individuals are still disaffected and relationships are struggling as much as ever. 

Fish Can’t Climb Trees by Helyn Connerr is based on a system called The Mercury Model™, which accepts that each mind is wired differently, and identifies our individual natural master operating programme through its correspondence with the placement of the planet Mercury at the time of our birth. 

The Mercury Model™ supports the position that the world needs all of us – one learning style is not better or worse than another, we all have mental strengths and blind spots; we each do best what comes naturally. 

As the Albert Einstein quote goes, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” This quote, as well as inspiring the name of the book, highlights the one-size-fits-all approach to modern teaching that sees many children ‘written off’ because their different learning styles do not fit traditional teaching methods. 

The interpretation of this ‘natural operating programme’ is distilled into 12 ‘types’, based on our way of handing information. The 12 types, depending on one’s date of birth, are: 

  • Scout, The Trailblazer: Quick on the uptake, eager, independent and competitive
  • Steady, The Vault: Slow to take on new information, cautious and committed
  • Buzz, The Curious: Inquisitive, talkative, full of ideas and interest in new information
  • Sponge, The Sensitive: Impressionable, emotional, a visual learner who absorbs information deeply
  • Rex, The Dignified: Cautious and analytical when presented with information, proud and rigorous
  • Details, The Analyst: Thorough, detail-orientated, adaptable and hungry for information
  • ProCon, The Diplomat: A mediator, open to ideas, polite, indecisive
  • Sherlock, The Detective: Sensitive, perceptive, an instinctive learner and careful with new information
  • Flash, The Pioneer: Fast to take up information, curious, easily distracted and restless
  • Exec, The Achiever: Goal-orientated, practical, organised and values stability
  • Boffin, The Innovator: Selective about learning, non-conformist and open-minded
  • Sonar, The Intuitive: Perceptive, highly visual, big-picture thinker

As well as outlining the 12 types, Connerr offers examples of people at home, in the classroom and in relationships to help visualise how each learning style plays out in real life. Advice is also offered on how to work with different types as well as groups of the same type, which could prove invaluable for teachers and parents.

Though the theory could be dismissed as far-fetched, the learning styles are easily relatable and looking up one’s own ‘type’ is sure to produce knowing smiles and nods.

Connerr believes that if we embrace the Mercury Model™, common ground can be found in order to build authentic, respectful relationships with people of all ages, from all nations, both genders and of all levels of capacity. Whether you buy into the theory or not, we could all do well to have more understanding. 

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