One of the hallmarks of good education is creating a variety of visual aids. They are useful and useful in many situations. After all, visual aids meet the development of the visual world: from a “hearing and reading culture” to an interactive “seeing culture”. A mind map is also a first step towards seeing and understanding more cohesion. They provide an overview of the whole, clarify relationships and coherence, leading to a deeper understanding of reality. Visual aids such as mind maps initiate communication, allowing for better exploration of mental models and promoting cooperative learning.
Brain research shows that visualization can support learning. Making “pictures” and then storing them appears to be of great importance in the operation of long-term memory. They offer us and the students opportunities to deal better with the enormous amount of data that is coming our way.
A mind map is also a first step towards seeing and understanding more cohesion. They provide an overview of the whole, clarify relationships and connections, leading to a deeper understanding of reality
Visual aids such as mind maps initiate communication, which makes it possible to better investigate mental models and to promote cooperative learning.
What is a mind map?
Mind maps can be compared to word spiders and clusters. The difference is that mind maps use colors, small photos, drawings, symbols, signs.
A mind map is a powerful graphic technique that appeals to the many capabilities of our brain. It is a simple way to retrieve and store information from our brain.
Mind maps can be applied to many situations in daily life. It is an effective and fun way to improve learning processes, to take notes, to structure information and to generate new ideas.
A mind map is a kind of map out of your head about what’s going on in your head! They consist of combinations of words, colors, lines and images (photos, drawings, symbols, icons, etc.).
Some advantages of mind maps:
We can remember more details. You can display existing knowledge in a visual diagram, add new knowledge and indicate connections. This makes it easier to remember the new knowledge with the help of associations. Moreover, mind maps appeal to more intelligences than just the verbal-linguistic ones.
You can expand a visual scheme in all directions, while the whole remains clear. This is much more difficult with a linear text. You can see at a glance the most important concepts and the interrelationships. You can quickly and easily create structure when generating ideas or taking notes.
Supporting visual memory
In a mind map you can use illustrations, drawings, shapes, colors and symbols. You see the information as an image instead of a text. Images work well because we have a powerful visual memory.
Mind maps are suitable for putting ideas on paper very quickly without being inhibited, such as with copywriting. This makes it easier for you to come up with new ideas. In a mind map you quickly see contradictions or blank spots in the information. This makes you stimulated to new yourselfask questions and learning goals.
In short: mind maps are wonderful learning aids !!
How do mind maps work?
The main reason mind maps are very effective in general is that they are closely related to the way our brains work. We have known more and more about this in recent years. One of the things that brain research has yielded is the fact that our brains do not work with “lists” when learning, but in the form of spiders. They are constantly looking for meaning and connections in the large amount of information they have to process. In fact, a mind map does nothing else.
The brain consists of two halves. It is known that each half has special properties. The left hemisphere is more concerned with the analytical, rational. While the right hemisphere is more responsible for a spatial and a more creative way of thinking.
In education, we mainly rely on the left hemisphere of the brain. This is partly because we are used to:
- to use paper and a blackboard with lines;
- to work with lists (laundry list thinking);
- mainly to work with words, while children grow up in a visual culture, partly under the influence of technology;
- using numbers to create order.
This approach means that we mostly use the left hemisphere of the brain. When working with mind maps, both hemispheres of the brain are addressed and, as it were, connected to each other. If you want to run, you don’t do that on one leg either.
Our brains use images and colors. For example, if someone says, “Your house,” what pops up in your head? Do we see a computer print of the word “house” on a piece of paper or do we see a “picture” of our house? The stones, the doors and windows, the roof, the garden, the colors and the shapes?
We know that our brains think and remember in pictures. For example, when we look at a photo album or magazine, a lot of memories immediately come up. When we want to remember something well, our brain makes an image of it and then stores it.
How do we make a mind map?
There are many ways to get started with mind maps. It is very important that we teach the students to work with mind maps and not let them work with them from the beginning.
Working with them is bound by rules in order to utilize the real added value of mind maps. In particular, the link is important between:
- to shape
- drawings and other illustrations
In general, it is helpful to follow the following five steps :
Use paper without lines, markers of various thicknesses, colored pencils, crayons and markers. Lay the sheet of paper horizontally. Make sure there is enough space to draw, paste and write.
In the middle of the paper we make a drawing or paste an image of the subject that this mind map is about. Make this drawing striking, expressive by means of color and shape. The subject can be many:
- the start of a new theme in the classroom;
- a problem we want to discuss;
- a theme from a newspaper article;
- a topic of the youth news;
- a subject from a text of a method (reading comprehension, areas of knowledge, etc.);
- about myself or a classmate: my hobbies, who I am, what I know about someone, what I would like to know;
- and so on, and so on, and so on.
From the drawing in the middle we draw some colored lines out. One line leads to one important part (Tony Buzan calls them the basic ordering ideas). It is useful to give each line its own color. We make the lines near the center thicker and more undulating than the further branches. Make sure these main lines are about the same length.
Then give each part a name. Put the words on the line, so that all important words in the mind map are underlined with a colored line. Make a drawing or add illustrations. Be creative, make it special.
New lines can then be drawn from the ends of these lines. These lines are getting thinner. Compare it with the branches of a tree. You can now apply the same method as in step 4: the words on the line, images at the end. As we work further out, the words and the drawings also get smaller.
Words can be written thicker and thinner, depending on how important you find them: the main concepts thicker, the details thinner;
Realize that each person’s brain is unique and so mind maps are always individual. This premise offers many opportunities to engage in conversation and to discover that there are multiple truths!
Working with mind maps is very useful when writing a story, a letter or a poem. “I don’t know how to write”, children often say. Try this method!
At the main points, children can then think about questions such as: what? Who? true? how? when? why?
Uses of mind maps
Mind maps can be used in many situations.
When planning themes, projects and meetings, organizing activities, analyzing a problem, making an overview of activities, etc.
Whether you work alone or in a group, a mind map is an excellent tool to generate uninhibited ideas while brainstorming. Every idea that you write down evokes new ideas in the participants and you can immediately place them in a diagram. This also allows you to immediately visualize the connections that the participants apparently see.
Structuring information. A mind map is an excellent tool for designing the conceptual structure of a lesson, chapter, book or website, for example.
When learning in the classroom: better remembering, recalling from memory, communicating, collaborating, taking notes, preparing letters, papers, stories, presentations, speaking engagements, improving engagement and concentration.
As an evaluation and as a test: after a series of lessons on agriculture, the students are given the test assignment to make a mind map about agriculture, in which they incorporate what they have learned. The teacher can see from the mind map whether the student knows which concepts are relevant, which connections he has recognized and which knowledge representation he has made.
Preparing a story, an essay, a speech
In the team: think of mind maps with the theme, for example, our vision, good education today, a good teacher, parental involvement, a project, our new schoolyard, our communication, and so on. The possibilities are endless!
Do you have a good application of mind maps in education, let others know:
From mind map to organizer
Organizers are many schemes and forms that are intended to structure information. Many of the current methods include organizers, both in primary and secondary education. One of the differences with mind maps is that organizers usually don’t use colors or illustrations.
And of course it is possible to use multiple visual aids around one topic. Take a story as a starting point.
We can create a word spider, cluster or mind map about the theme of a story. It is often also possible to put the content of the story in a different way in a mind map or in an organizer. :
An example of an organizer:
Research by Emmelien Merchie has shown that students working with mind maps that are pre-structured (as above in the organizer) show greater and longer-lasting growth in terms of visibly deep learning strategy use. See: https://www.brainpartner.info/emmelien-merchie/