By :- Md. Nasir Khan
Learning is an ultimate need as a human being and formal education plays the major role in the process though we agreed learning is happening around in all walks of life. Right from our mother’s womb learning is taking place. “If you put your hand over your mouth and speak, that’s very similar to the situation the fetus is in,” says cognitive neuroscientist Eino Partanen of the University of Helsinki. “You can hear the rhythm of speech, rhythm of music, and so on.”
Our misperception is learning happens right from the day a child attends school. Learning begins right from the mother’s womb and began practical learning right from the moment a child is born; that’s how a child began to cry. When a baby enters the real world, it faces a change in environment. The womb is a warm, silent and comfortable place for the baby whereas the outside world is cold and strange for the baby. This is a major reason behind the newborn’s cry. Furthermore, when the baby lives in a womb, it didn’t need to use its own lungs to breathe, now in the outside world, the baby has to breathe on its own. This process is difficult for the baby, that’s why it cries. Actually, crying is good for the baby as due to crying the lungs get activated. Due to crying the amniotic fluid in lungs is removed.
Many philosophers and educationist have introduced some best form of learning procedures however there are many unnatural and unscientific forms of learning process going on in our classrooms. Let us look at how we practically introduced A is for apple to our child. In maximum of the English medium schools A is for apple is the most common, popular and undeniable introduction of learning worldwide just after completion of alphabets. Here lies an error. Why should we begin a child’s learning with an instructional thinking process? A child’s mind is an open space, unlimited and unimaginable; they can think in whatever way they wish to. Instructional thinking kills creativity. Freedom to think freely and independently empowers their mental ability and thereby enabled them to multiply their neurons connectivity and activate both chambers of the brain. How much we try some way or the other way we commit the same mistake of limiting our child to think.
Limiting the Unlimited Thinking Power
Aahil is a small boy of age 3 two years ago and her mother is Shabhnam. They lived is a small village. He attends a local school in playgroup and began learning alphabets and numbers. After learning few sounds of letters he began his imagination of forming words. He would play shouting A for apa, ama …and so on…. The mother cried A is for apple not apa!
Master Aahil would scribbles on the wall exploring his imagination with charcoal, crayons and pencil. Happy and satisfied with his work he would call his mother, “Mama mama look what I have drawn…his mom was furious seeing the newly painted wall dirty and would say”… Aahil stop scribbling on the wall, you are making it dirty baby.” Shabhnam’s concern was more on the dirty wall but not on the child’s imagination and his cognitive motor skills.
Aahil is a healthy and sporting child. He loves to jump down from his bed and so does he. His mother would always stop him from doing so, as she is concern of him getting injury and advised not to jump down. Aahil is inquisitive by nature…he would always have dozens of questions to ask…Mama why is the stars seen only at night? Where does Spiderman live? Why is sunflower yellow? How is Hulk so healthy? When can I meet Shiva (cartoon)…?
Shabhnam: Aahil stop asking stupid questions. Read your books and one day you should become a doctor. Present day Aahil have stop imagining new ideas, stops asking questions, does not dream anymore to meet Shiva, his favourite cartoon character, and day by day the curiosity in him was dying.
He sometimes tried drawing a flower in his notebook and on the wall, tried asking questions to his mom however he stops his hands nor does words comes out from his mouth with a fear that his mother will feel bad. He stops looking up in the sky nor did he questions where Spiderman lives.
A creative boy Aahil was; with a freedom to think on its own without limitations. He is now an idle boy who thinks many times before he develops his independent thinking. He has no choice but to follow the instructions, the instructions of his mother and that of his teacher. When asked what would he be when grown up, he looked at his mom and unwillingly replied; My mom says I should be a good doctor.
Let us look at the character Aahil in the short story above; his thinking was independent, imaginative and full of energy. He has the life in his own world; today he is waiting for instructions to come, instructions from his mother, teacher or any elders. There was in him, rhythm, imagination, daydreaming, colours as well as spatial awareness which are all characters of the right hemisphere of the brain linked with creativity. Yes it’s true that Shiva, his cartoon character doesn’t exist, nor does the Spiderman and the Hulk. There is better way to let him understand the facts, not by shutting his mouth. As he grow up he would discover his potential and prove to be one, successful and promising but now he would stop the quest and may probably end up a doctor. Is this the right education we look for? This way there are millions of students who were less creative, less intelligent by the time they began the formal education. Is there a way out to bring back them to their original life, original thinking, original creativity, original independent thinking?
A child named Anthony Peter “Tony” Buzan (/ÈbuÐzYn/), popularly known as Tony Buzan later, was born on June 2,1942 in Palmers Green, Enfield, Middlesex, London, England. As he grew up and attends university the volume of academic work has increased and his brain is starting to buckle under the strain of all the thinking, creativity, memory, problem-solving, analysis and writing required. Like other fellow friends, he began to experience not only diminishing returns but accelerating non-returns. The more he took notes and studied, the worse paradoxically, he seemed to do! In his second year at university, Tony Buzan strode purposefully into the library, and asked the librarian where he could find a book on his brain and how to use it. She (the librarian) immediately directed him to the medical section of the library! When he explained that he did not wish to operate on his brain, but to use it, he was politely informed that there were no such books. He left the library in astonishment.
Right from the day he left the library young Tony began to study every area of knowledge he felt would help shed light on the basic question he have:
How do I learn how to learn?
What is the nature of my thinking?·
What are the best techniques for memorising?·
What are the best techniques for creative thinking?
What are the best current techniques for reading?
What are the best current techniques for thinking in general?
Is there a possibility of developing new thinking techniques or one master technique?
As a consequence of these questions Mr. Tony Buzan began to study psychology, the neuro-physiology of the brain, semantics, neuro-linguistics, information theory, memory and mnemonic techniques, perception, creative thinking and the general sciences. He finally realised that the human brain functioned more effectively and efficiently if its various physical aspects and intellectual skills were allowed to work harmoniously with each other, rather than being divided. Little by little an overall architecture began to emerge, and as it did, he began to coach, as a hobby, pupils who have been described as ‘learning disabled’, ‘hopeless’, ‘dyslexic’, ‘backward’, and ‘delinquent’. All these so called ‘failures’ very rapidly changed into good students, a number of them rising to the top of their respective classes. His findings on importance of the use of colours, symbols, pictures and key words gave him satisfying results. Say for example, combining the two cortical skills of words and colours transformed his note-taking. The simple addition of two colours in his note improved his memory of those notes by more than 100 per cent, and perhaps even more importantly, made him begin to enjoy what he was doing. By early 1970s artificial intelligence had arrived and he managed to own a megabyte computer and then he decided to write a series of books based on his research: An Encyclopedia of the Brain and Its Use. He started in 1971 and as he did so an image on the horizon became ever clearer – it was the growing concept of Radiant Thinking and Mind Mapping®.
Mind Maps ®
A Mind Map® is a powerful graphic technique which provides a universal key to unlock the potential of the brain. It harnesses the full range of cortical skills – word, image, number, logic, rhythm, colour and spatial awareness – in a single, uniquely powerful manner. In so doing, it gives you the freedom to roam the infinite expanses of your brain. The Mind Map® can be applied to every aspect of life where improved learning and clearer thinking will enhance human performance. The technique maps out our thoughts using key-words that trigger associations in the brain to spark further ideas. Mind Maps® are now used by millions of people around the world – from the very young to the very old – whenever they wish to use their brains more effectively.
Mind maps are now used in government offices, corporate sectors, businessmen, educational institutions, farms and individuals the purpose of which are Learning, Teaching, Thinking, Self Analysis, Problem-Solving, Family Study, Story-Telling, Meetings, Presentations, Management, Whole-Brain Thinking, as well as Mental Literacy etc. My focus here is on education, mainly the learning skills in Mind-Mapping.
Brain compatible thinking tool
One major aspects of Mind-Mapping is the whole-brain thinking, as it gives you the freedom to roam the infinite expanses of your brain. Almost the moment Mind Maps came into use another major piece of scientific research confirmed their validity as a brain-compatible thinking method. In California, Dr. Roger Sperry, who won a Nobel Prize, in 1981, for his research in “split-brain”, confirmed that the evolutionarily latest part of the brain, the ‘thinking cap’ of the Cerebral Cortex, was divided into two major hemispheres, and those hemispheres performed a comprehensive range of intellectual tasks, called cortical skills. The tasks included: Logic, Rhythm, Lines, Color, Lists, Daydreaming, Numbers, Imagination, Word, and Gestalt (seeing the whole picture).
Mind Maps uses key-words, colours, pictures and maps out information in a plain paper. The key words are such words that give the larger links and associations and it funneled in information. Once these keywords are triggered, same order of information shall be funneled out. The funneled out information creates creative words; and creative words sprays out association in all directions. This is the beauty it has in it.
We learn with colours. It is one of the most powerful tools to stimulate memory and creativity. It generates feelings, attention, and behavior when learning. Colours enable us to escape the danger of monochrome monotony. It adds life to our images/ pictures and makes them more attractive. Monochrome learning makes our brain dull and lazy; it makes our learning less efficient.
Pictures are ‘worth a thousand words’. We learn with pictures. Raymond S. Nickerson, an American psychologist and author, did an experiment in which each subject was presented with 600 pictures at the rate of one per second. When tested immediately after the presentation, average accuracy was 98 per cent reports the Canadian Journal of Psychology. He further expands his research, increasing the number of pictures from 600 to 10000. Significantly, Nickerson emphasized that each of his 10000 pictures were ‘vivid’. Also, in the article ‘Learning 10 000 Pictures’, in the Quarterly Journal of Experiment Psychology, Dr. Lionel G. Standing, Professor in the Psychology department at Bishop’s University, Lennoxville, QC, commented that ‘the capacity of recognition memory for pictures is almost limitless!’
Mind Maps works exactly in the way our brain functions. From a central idea/ image, associative key words radiates in a curvy way similar to the neurons connection in our brain, and not in straight lines. It is organic in nature as the neuron’s organic nature. This organic nature makes the mind maps rhythmic and flexible; flexibility is an art of being creative. The use of words, images/ pictures, colours, associations, imaginations, rhythm, key words, codes, curve lines on a plane picture activates both the two hemisphere of the brain and creates synergy and that’s how you don’t feel asleep when you study using Mind Maps. You don’t need to worry for information overload. Your long essay of 5-10 pages or even a whole book can be picturized in a single plane paper in just a page.
How do we normally take notes and make notes? Conventionally, isn’t it? We use lined paper, make notes in lists, we use words, we use numbers to structure the order of words, we try to be logical, and we use a single colour: a blue or blank colour pen. These are all left-brain skills. By using only half of our brain’s amazing potential while making standard notes we let our brain idle; less efficient. Let us look at some key characteristics of linear note-taking set against those of Mind Mapping:
This way Mind Maps note-taking helps us to remember better, come up with brilliant ideas and have fun while studying.
While Mind Mapping we use only 10% words of the whole topic. These words are all key words and associative words radiates from the main branch. These words in the main branch are actually sub-topic of the chapter/ topic. Exam revision takes time; we have less time and more subjects to cover. The solution to such major challenges of the students is Mind Mapping. It saves time and gives you opportunity to cover more topics. When we revise a subject, chapter or a topic using Mind Maps, we are only triggering the key words already stored in our long term memory and enable us to get better grades. This way we are free from examination blues. It may be noted that a Mind Mapped information goes to the long term memory. The steps to store information in our long term memory using Mind Maps can be had from our Brain Training Session.
Mindfulness and Mental Literacy
When we start writing an examination remembering the key words and their associations, we generate imaginations, making it more creative and help us score better marks. We use our own expression while trying to make up the whole idea rather than remembering word by words as in the text book or the notes prepared by teachers. Mind Maps help us improve our vocabulary and make us expressive. Another great advantage of a Mind Mapper is the Public Speaking Skills. Mind mapped information can be delivered efficiently and with confidence. There is no room of pausing in between as you begin your presentation as the associative words are linked to the key words and the connection continues as it proceeds. The use of more than two colours adds flavor to memory and build confidence. It helps us mentally literate and makes us use our head in the way we would love to and always enjoy the moment. We are more mindful and our head becomes strong as we are mentally literate day by day as we continue to Mind Map.
Our brain is the most creative machine on this planet! All we need is to activate it. And Mind Map is one such tool that activates it, pulls the trigger and helps us more and more creative and intelligent.
“For 21st Century Kids, we need to Revolutionize Education, to Revolutionize Education we need to Train the Brain and to Train the Brain we need MindMap”:- Md. Nasir Khan
Tony Buzan: Mind Maps for kids
Tony Buzan with Barry Buzan: The Mind Map Book
Tony Buzan: Mind Map Mastery