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A growing tree may have trunk, branches, and twigs (This is a cross section). Ideas likewise, one way or another.

The idea map is a patterned diagram. it is a concept map, where (good) points radiate from a central idea or area (stem, trunk, and so on.). The "map" is a display of ideas, by simple, well-meaning "rules of the game," or guideposts.

In a learning process, to summarise somebody else's words by keywords in a thought-display may pay of that display is followed up. There are well-meaning guideposts for it.

Idea maps (or mind maps) represent one way among others of displaying sensible keynotes. Visual displays can improve memory, and gradually foster better thinking.

Keynotes are for learning. Learning is for gaining solvency, or keeping it. Mind maps assist learning much like chapter surveys, or tables of content, but idea maps are not tabulated; rather, they "spin out of" a central icon, a core idea or core field. In other words, idea maps are rather simple drawings, diagrams, used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. The elements of a given mind map are arranged intuitively according to the sensed importance of the concepts, and annexed ideas branch out from there, into areas, groupings, or just branches.

Idea maps are graphical ways of taking notes. These "maps" or drawings may typically involve informal use of colour, icons and visual links. Idea maps can be used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid to studying and organizing information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing.

The idea map is a concept map. The concept map was developed by learning experts in the 1970s. The structure of a mind map is a similar radial, but is simplified by having one central key word.

[Wikipedia, s.v. "Mind map" and "concept map"]

Idea Maps

If you cut down a pine or another tree and look at the stub from above, you may see something that looks like the illustration. Kuges are like arrays of branches of a trunk, and the branches may have twigs, leaves, flowers, and fruits on them too.

The centre of the idea map is trunk-like, main connections (associations) branch out, some have side-branches, and twigs spread out from any of them, in principle - at times from the stem too. There is room for that in such a design - an idea map.

What is shown by leafy twigs is clusters of relatable ideas. Just think of a tree seen from above. Maybe you have sawed it off to see more clearly. The central items form a core - the trunk. Keynotes or key words then branch out in an organised fashion around that pivotal trunk. There are many ways for branches to grow and intertwine too.

When you assemble keynotes and place them in relation to each other, you end up with one or more of these: a scheme, another survery, or some table or graph.

This display is of exactly the same type as the "flower design". When you take down notes in the form of structured idea maps, try to take them down neatly and arrange them according to "the wisdom of petals". That is, association lines may be clustered and organised into a higher unity - the map or chart, like petals form a flower. If you learn to arrange groups (clusters) of items as if they were flower petals around a calyx, your learning maybe sped up somewhat. The petals compare to association loops or such "coils".

Idea Map Essentials

When you draw an idea map, this pattern should be fit for many lines of thought, and interconnecting some of them too. Idea maps are spatial arrays with a centre area. They help seing connections and interconnections. They should help you - by the neat display - to get some overview, see connections (draw branching lines - thich and thin if you care), use them for reviews and thereby remember more and better if you do the steps all right.

First, draw neatly, second, be accurate and connect points that are linkable. Third, brief reviews of the keynotes you have connected in the chart.

By such charts you have a means to mobilise several of your mental skills, through a very helpful abstract of essentials where keywords stand out, and are interconnected, and organised.

By training yourself in chart-making of this kind, you develop skills in non-secondhand thinking, not only in summing up ideas of others. That is to say, good thinking can be stepped up, good learning too, in time. Some may reach higher levels of learning, others may get their own insights to - insights had preferably be verified. That is not always easy. Be on the safe side. At any rate, Benjamin Bloom and others have exposed six steps on the way to higher levels of learning - and in addition there is original thought and fresh insights that could need to be "brushed up" in some cases, or could need sound proofs in other cases. A large part of the science endeavour is testing of ideas (hypotheses and the like).

Idea charts - "blossoms" or "trunk sections" or whatever - could help learning for those who go all the way and use such figures aligned to how the long-term memory (LTM) works. And you can truncate items well by many sorts of visual displays - if you like it better than indented lists as they are found in such as chapter surveys. Mind that both ways can serve you OK.

There is more than one way to go about learning. A key to developing our brains is proper use, nice challenges, and methods so that we may solve recurrent problems too. Better thinking - better recall and perhaps better processing of ideas - may be had by proper brain use, for the connections between brain cells grow by use, says Marion Diamond [in Gross 25, 30]. These helpful points are exposed here: [Link]

Good and even better understanding can be steadily developed, and you do not have to look silly for drawing idea maps: The methods is already much used, and found helpful. You may get honoured for handy thinking by such means and many others. There is much to learn. There is a survey here: [Link]

Building sensible maps of keynotes amounts to hard work

In visual displays, "cognitive maps", we place a keynote or perhaps also an image in the centre of the page. To keep central issues in a central field helps focus Or, to stay with the flower image, they are the petals.

A trunk-branch scheme or a calyx-petals design gives very much freedom for variations. Branches may grow out later - you may want to add to older charts after some time. The overall design allows for it.

Bear up with poetic words like sky flowers and rustic images of trees and flowers for the time being. The sceneries and labels may help you to remember the whole of the business we're inside almost at once, if you graps what they tell in the context. The imagery and the words can serve as pegs for your own thinking as time goes by.

If you go on building up keynote charts of the kinds indicated above and on previous pages, back them up by revisiting old charts now and then, to get more into your long-term memory, and thus be empowered in your mind use. A fair learning process depends on much more than keynotes, no matter how well they are selected and presented. The steps called O TAKG SPIR help too along with many and solid pauses between quite short study sessions. As we grow older, the length of the sessions may decrease and the length of the integrated pauses may increase, but all the same, much is served by that approach, granted that active learning may be hard.

You may solidify your learning by taping parts of it and listen to the recordings now and then. Such passive learning is fine for recall.


Mind Maps: How to make them

The main ways of drawing an idea map are about the same as for mind maps by the British psychologist Tony Buzan. He recommends:

  1. A coloured image in the centre.
  2. Main ideas branch off the centre.
  3. Main ideas can be in larger letters than secondary ideas.
  4. The statements to recalled may be formed into succinct statements, like axioms. Learning is often helped by short statements. Most cultures on this planet have devised proverbs and lessons accordingly. Consider writing either short statements that may "sit" for long, or very terse keyword skeletons. Buzan goes into the latter. We prefer the former. One good reason is that you probably recall the first meanings better by short phrases - get ampler associations. It's not that easy with keywords. Try to find out how terse your keynotes should be to aid maximum recall. Bear in mind in so doing that the long intervals between recalls, the greater chances for decay for just single words, probably. This is to say: the better you memorise the first three weeks or so, the shorter the keywords may be - assumedly.
  5. Printed words help later (either upper or lower case letters, or a combination of upper and lower cases).
  6. The mind maps of Buzan employs lines to help the linking (associative) process on and up. If you take to it, his rules (of the thumb) are: Words should be printed on the lines (in order to give your mind a clearer image to remember). Alternatives may give you ready-made lines to the statements to consider. Feel free to choose what connective method appeals the most to you. Or still better: experiment with them to detect what assists your understanding and memory best. Some leeway is often a boon against getting slavish.
  7. Lines should be connected (so as to help your memory to associate). You may connect statements with colours. Try plastic crayons. Pen or ink lines may work well too.
  8. Buzan advocates many images. However, if you don't come up with any image in a lecture or class where you take down notes and time is too short, fill in sensible keywords instead.
  9. In the case of loose petalled maps feel free to use numbers to code or put things in order, or do it in any way that looks nice and works just well for you in the long and short and middle run . . .
  10. For coding and connecting we use mainly:
    • colours,
    • numbers;
    • perhaps also arrows, but in moderate degree

Tony Buzan also lists up symbols; letters, images and use of dimensional drawings, and speaks for drawing a lot, talks about pseudoscientific left-right brain balancing - I have left out such parts of his general recommendations, for sensible proof to back up his claims seems to be lacking. [See Buzan 1988b, 100-01]

Mind that there is room for alternatives far and wide. Long-term memory depends more on sensible meanings than visual or graphic displays, it sems fair to say.

Let the memory help handling. Idea maps are for making essentials realisable, and can obviously assist better learning if you apply the principles of good memory work (learning).

If you like to group or chunk keynotes, that is like forming broad petals with little overlapping. This approach can be standardised further into reasonable schemata, and schemata can ease learning also.


Claimed Mind-Mapping Advantages

Barry and Tony Buzan claim Buzan's mind-mapping has these advantages over linear note-making/taking:

  1. Time saved by noting: 50-95 per cent.
  2. Time saved by reading: over 90 per cent of total.
  3. Time saved reviewing MM notes: over 90 per cent.
  4. Time saved by not having to search for key words: more than 90 per cent.
  5. Concentration on real issues enhanced.
  6. Essential key words made more easily discernible.
  7. Juxtaposed key words (nearness, linkage)
  8. Appropriate associations between key words helped
  9. Recall stimulated, and left-right brain use stimulated. [Perhaps not]
  10. Flow of thought encouraged
  11. Natural eagerness to learn can be helped or preserved.
  12. Regular use can favour receptiveness, confidence and alertness. [Buzan and Buzan 1995, 89-90]

Despite such Buzan claims, research by others so far does not confirm any astounding effects of mind maps on learning in general, though. [Evidence]


The Lay of the Land

  • The books on display on the shelves or having them in the computer do not matter as much as having read them.
  • Having read a book is less than remembering its salient lessons.
  • Based on memory you may even seek to apply the key points in your own life.
  • Visualise the things you would like to come true for you. Calmness and liking what you are doing helps practice and combats stress. [Gelb and Buzan 1995, 54-55]

Felling a Tree and Chewing on Text Books

BEFORE we fell a tree, we make sure to have or keep what it takes. Keep your axe or chain saw and gear in shape. Sharpen what needs to be sharpened. A blunt axe or chain makes work less convenient. Before a learning session, be rested, adjust your brain as needs be - this corresponds to sharpening the axe. How? Train yourself in focusing through good yoga methods of meditation is a very nice way in general.

Make sure you don't study for very long in each session. Many fall short in this. They study on for hours without breaks. Take a break after at least 20-25 minutes, memory research indicates - and proper study methods had better make allowance for it. The length of a break between study sessions may be ten minutes or so, depending on age and health and fitness. Study sessions be made shorter with age, and pauses in between them longer.

Opposed to the smart ways of study, some deceive themselves into reading on and on in robot like manner. They think that since they understand what they are reading, they may keep on in one session for hours on end till they are exhausted. This is wrong. One thing is understanding, another is remembering, and learning depends very much on the latter. The most solid worth of studying lies in what is recalled. And the recall operates differently than the understanding. Optimal study tunes in to how we remember - and therefore requires shorter intervals and breaks during study sessions. Memory curves illustrate it neatly.

Some meditation methods have been researched, and found to influence brain waves. ◦TM is "best in test". There is much research on TM.

Help Your Brain Waves

A litte meditation may work well on the large brain. Refrain from making a learning session long, but take frequent pauses. And read with as much interest and eagerness as you can (in the flow). There are technicalities of learning to help you with it. [Gross; Buzan 1989]

If you do not like what you are studying, there is the hope that you can come to appreciate it if you stand by technical sides to learning as those above. Interest may arise and develop with calm focus. What you focus on may turn interesting. It happens to many students when they master their subjects more or better. That is the secret.

Tony Buzan further shows how to prepare for learning sessions, choosing suitable "bites" of learning, so to speak, and well - if you learn the best ways of learning, you can get further and enjoy more. [Link]

Public Education in Norway

Most public education - at least in Norway - is a fundamentally insensible waste of time, effort and energy. The example: In a study by Jarand Rystad [Jr] in the 1990s, he let older university students and researchers attend an examination in mathematics for the second grade at NTNU (the technical university) in Trondheim. All flunked, and half of them did not hand in anything at all. Norwegian researchers - A summary of Rystad's study is published in Norwegian on this site. [Link]

Where people learn for passing examinations mainly - as in some universities - what they can bring to mind of the curriculum after a few months tends to be very little and fragmentary, and probably not good enough to pass an exam then. To some this does not matter - a job may be what they are studying for, and not life-long learning with interest and good recall. But one should be warned that after a fortnight without reviews afterwards, perhaps just five percent of what a lecture was about, can be remembered. It gets worse with time. Count that in too.

Proper study methods can offset or counteract a part of the unreasonable and rather unnecessary waste. There are benefits of cramming and copying mostly for examinations too - such as passing examinations to get a job and what follows. It obviously helps some. There are other forms of charades too in a society, but this is presumably the basic one. The play is on formal competence (grades and other tokens), while real competence is dwarfed, and not quite up to the qualifications that are formally indicated by grades and diplomas.

To correct the schooling charade it is not enough to pump more money into the public school system and train all sorts of teachers an extra year: it is adhering to the things that yield excellent learning that is most likely needed. By not focusing on learning much may be squandered and education become the parody that Noam Chomsky speaks of in, "Typically they [the students] come in interested, and the process of education is a way of driving that defect out of their minds."

It appears that many costly study ways are semi-ritual and ossified, without good enough reasons for keeping them up as they are. Homework may not offer any great help either, shows Alfie Kohn. Children and students neither get better grades nor better study habits from it, he finds, based on 300 studies from the United States and several other Western countries. Grades are outer motivations for "control from above", a means to keep young ones in dependency, a means to forcing many to read things with reluctance and growing aversion, the result of which seems to make many crazy in the long run, not only oblivious and outsmarted.

If learning is not fun, take time to find out the reasons. Have you given time to follow up your sincere interests? Have you learnt to study with calm and reassurance through good study methods?

If learning is not fun, you have been outsmarted somehow, more or less so. Compare Gross (1999) on "being in the flow" too.

The sinister play is much about getting formal ompetence; genuine zest for learning tends to go under by it.

Einstein "It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for what this delicate little plant needs more than anything, besides stimulation, is freedom. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty." [Albert Einstein]

Tony Buzan's Work over Decades - A Summary

If you like to be a bit overstimilated, Buzan books may suit you. Many books have overlapping content - that is, he has published many remakes of older editions.

Anthony "Tony" Peter Buzan (1942 -) is an popular psychology author, an educational consultant, and a proponent of the techniques of Mind Mapping and "mental literacy". The last term signals he holds that the brain can be used as a "super biocomputer", and that certain ways of organising ideas help the mind. Buzan takes off from a now discredited idea that man uses only one percent of his brain [Mum 1]. He should have revised that notion of his in the light of recent brain studies. There is support for more proficient claims. ["We use far more than 10 percent of our grey matter"]

Buzan promises that his methods usher in a purported 99 percent increase of brain power by harnessing hitherto unused brain power, and envisions such "mental literacy" to be spread throughout the world. First, there is no need to believe the increase will be 99 percent as long as that number is based on undervaluing the brain use in the first place. However, where the brain ends and the mind takes over, is an interesting "place" of meeting. Learning takes place in the mind too. And mind itself is a regularly overlooked factor in psychology, or "mind-logy". What pertains to the mind outside the realm of science and psychology, is of philosophy, generally speaking.

Ideas you are aware of, they are in the mind, though they be linked to association networks in the brain too.

Many of Buzan's ideas have been set into many books books. Recent ones are published by BBC. Books by Tony Buzan are sold in over 200 countries and have been translated into 35 languages. Several new editions have appeared over the years, and remakes. Big themes of his personal development efforts are given below. I have put his significant books under some heading. However, the content overlaps rather much. There are inspirational or encouraging parts in all his books, as far as I know. Consider the books here to be examples, them.

[Wikipedia, s.v. "Tony Buzan", Mental literacy"]

1. Informing or encouraging us to make better use of our potentials for ourselves

- and also in the battle of education for likable jobs in life. The potentials in any case may be greater than many people figure, but may not be as grand as Buzan holds.

Tony Buzan. Buzan's Study Skills: Mind Maps, Memory Techniques, Speed Reading and More! Harlow, UK: Pearson Education, 2011.

2. Mind maps aiding overviews and memorisation

Mind Maps for Kids: Study Skills. Harlow: BBC Active /Pearson, 2010. —— Mind mapping may be fun and help recall in some, and not just a complete waste of time.

The Mind Map Book. Harlow: BBC Active /Pearson, 2010. —— Idea maps may help you when you are taking notes, revising for exams and planning, including planning essays and research. At work such overall surveys can help your organisational skills, helping to prepare and run meetings and plan strategy - if you ignore its considerable aggrandisements. ""Even traditionally well educated and literate individuals are significantly restricted by the fact that they are able to use only a fraction of the biological and conceptual thinking tools which are available (the mind map). [The Mind Map Book, Buzan and Buzan 1991]"

3. Study skills, including how to plan learning sessions of one's own

Buzan's Study Skills. Harlow: BBC Active /Pearson, 2011. —— A book on applying speed reading, skills of recall, and idea mapping to improve on studies by hopefully making more effective notes, plan essays routinely by idea maps and hence improve the performance.

Use Your Head. Harlow: BBC Active /Pearson, 2010. —— This is one of the books that Buzan is best known for. It seeks to inspire you to stronger creative efforts, recall of information, and more efficient learning work.

4. Reading fast (speed reading), comprehending better

The Speed Reading Book. Harlow: BBC Active /Pearson, 2010. —— The basic ideas behind the content may be simple, it is using them that counts, and not all who try, get the improvements they are made to think they get. It is best to be forewarned about what could be marketing hype.

5. Recalling better through memory aids

The Memory Book. Harlow: BBC Active /Pearson, 2010. —— The subtitle, "How to remember anything you want" has a corollary that Buzan ignores: "How to forget all you don't want to remember". If forgetting is a blessing, this book may do you an ill turn, if its hype comes true in your life . . .

6. More and better output, also to remunerative ends

Mind Maps for Business. Harlow: BBC Active /Pearson, 2010. —— Mind mapping aimed atthe business realm, at enhancing creativity, productivity and over-all grasps; improving efficiency, sound business skills, business thinking and strategic leadership; making discussions productive; increasing sales; embracing change.


Teach Yourself Sane Reservation

On the whole it will be better not to exaggerate one's claims, for such hype may work like boasting and alienate some, disappoint others, and give believers a hard time in getting to grips with the lay of the land so they get fit, so-called realistic notions of prospects and what mind mapping can do for them.

By exaggerating the worth of a good thing you discredit it, some might say. I think I can subscribe to that, after using mind maps over the years, me too. As I see it, it is better to present facts accurately and blandly. Understatement may serve a cause better than grand overstatements, and being careful, accurate and factual may be the best of the three. Pick your choice and reap their consequences (karma).

Since mind mapping goes into many sides to personal development and developing proficiency, I would like to draw attention to a neat series of books on many subjects, the Teach Yourself Books (Abingdon).

Apart from publishing language courses like Complete Swedish and how to operate technical matters, they also go into psychology, for example Understand Psychology, and branches into such as Freud - the Key Ideas, and Jung - The Key Ideas - and self-help, for example Confidence and Social Skills, Teach Yourself Be More Assertive, and others on how to write novels and understand the weather (two different books -) and much else.

The book titles suggest a lot. (Teach Yourself):

Improve Your Time Management; Train Your Brain; How to Remember Anything [Uha!]; Be Your Own Life Coach; Motivate Yourself and Reach Your Goals; Set up a Successful Small Business. If you should fail a couple of times in troubled times or whatever, there is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Small Business Accounting along with books on dealing with taxes for small firms to resort to along with Beat Stress with Meditation (books and videos).

And these are just samples on sides to how we can improve ourselves and get it better - by channeling our time and efforts profitably. Knowledge and skills should help if our conditions are not barren and tax problems get us in jail. Some improve themselves while in jail. They may have lots of time to meditate and think - study power, that is. There is research that shows that ◦TM (Transcendental Meditation) helps the recovery of ◦inmates.

It also helps to get thrifty, and the Teach Yourself Thrifty Living offers much advice apart from "Don't waste your water", "Cut your home phone bills", "Shopping knowhow", "Look after your shoes", "Frugal storage", "Thrifty ways of learning", "Grow your own", and "Give up smoking". Some of the counsels in the book could be right on where you live.

So if we have access to good books, we may rise to accomplish better if we feel for it, and maybe not: Let us be realistic; outcomes depend not only on ourselves, but also on our predominant conditions, key associates and on funding. But see what you can do. Improving yourself you improve your world and thus helps the world, which is sorely needed in our times.

But there are dangers. Being an entrepreneur is much harder and more time consuming than many other ways to try to make a living, and may fail for "surprisingly many" in Norway, at any rate. So consider too.


Mind maps, idea maps, thought displays, with tips for handling the learning processes, Literature  

Bloom, Benjamin, et al. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals. New York: McKay, 1956.

Buzan, Tony. Make the Most of Your Mind. Rev. ed. London: Pan, 1988.

Buzan, Tony. The Memory Book: How to Remember Anything You Want. Harlow: BBC Active / Person, 2010.

Buzan, Tony. The Speed Reading Book: Read More, Learn More, Achieve More. Harlow: Pearson Education, 2010.

Buzan, Tony. Buzan's Study Skills: Mind Maps, Memory Techniques, Speed Reading and More! Harlow, UK: Pearson Education, 2011.

Buzan, Tony. Use Your Head. Harlow: Pearson Education, 2010.

Buzan, Tony, with Barry Buzan. The Mind Map Book: Unlock Your Creativity, Boost Your Memory, Change Your Life. Harlow: BBC Active/Pearson, 2010.

Buzan, Tony, with Chris Griffiths. Mind Maps for Business: Revolutionise Your Business Thinking and Practise. Harlow, UK: Pearson Educational, 2010.

Gelb, Michael J., and Tony Buzan. Lessons from the Art of Juggling. London: Aurum Press, 1995.

Gross, Ronald. Peak Learning: A Master Course in Learning How to Learn. Rev. ed. New York: J. Tarcher/Putnam, 1999.

Herrigel, Eugen. Zen i bueskytingens kunst. Oslo: Gyldendal, 1971.

Kohn, Alfie. Why Our Children Get Too Much of a Bad Thing. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press, 2006.

Nast, Jamie. Idea Mapping: How to Access Your Hidden Brain Power, Learn Faster, Remember More, and Achieve Success in Business. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2006.

Rystad, Jarand. "Alt glemt på grunn av ubrukeleg eksamensform? En empirisk undersøkelse av Matematikk 2 eksamen ved NTH." I UNIPED nr 2-3, 1993:29-50.

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