Mindmap: effective aid in education

Why is a mindmap effective?

© Truus Römgens

This text was written by Truus Römgens. These texts may be copied for personal use (theses, papers, speaking engagements, etc.). Publishing this in any way is not permitted.


Mind mapping

create mind map
questions in a mind map

Why is a mind map effective? Mind mapping is a graphic technique that supports you visually in an effective, fun way in processing learning material. It is a simple way to retrieve and store information from our brain. The most remarkable effect of using this method is the emergence of a surprising creativity; a creativity that we as adults often no longer possess. Through mind mapping you learn to discover cohesion that is an impetus for new thought processes.

Mind maps can be compared to word spiders and word clusters. The difference is that with mind maps words, colors, lines and images (drawings, photos, icons, etc.) are displayed in a separate way.

Making mind maps is in line with what we know about how our brains work. It is therefore a way of working that is increasingly making its way into education. The mind map pictured above is a kind of summary about creating and using a mind map.

mind map image

A mind map is a kind of map out of your head about what’s going on in your head! 

Mind mapping can help us a lot:

  • to see not only details but also the total picture at the same time (one of the main objectives of systems thinking)
  • to display, talk about and remember a large amount of information in an organized way
  • to think creatively about problems and solutions
  • to use our time efficiently
  • to better focus on the content
  • to structure our thinking
  • to have more fun and involvement in learning

In short:

A mind map is a powerful  learning tool !!

A mind map is effective because this designer fits well with how our brains work.

better education through brain knowledgeBetter education through Brain Knowledge. Author: Truus Römgens

Robert Pastoor: ” This beautiful book examines in an inspiring way the application of brain knowledge in education. The mind maps in this book support the text in a fantastic way.” 

For more information and purchase: click HERE

Why is a mind map effective?

The main reason a mind map is effective in education is that it closely matches 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 related in the large amount of information they receive. In fact, a mind map does nothing else.

In addition, the brain consists of two halves, each with its own functions.

mind map effectively by using multiple parts in brain

Left and right hemispheres of the brain

Mind mapping

In education we mainly appeal to the left half. 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 (despite our visual culture);
  • using numbers to create order.

This approach means that we usually only use one hemisphere of the brain. When working with mind maps, both hemispheres of the brain are addressed and, as it were, connected to each other. That’s why a mind map is effective.

How the brain works: an example

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

left half
  • words
  • thinking logical
  • numbers
  • order
  • linear thinking
  • analysis
  • lists
right half
  • rhythm
  • Awareness
  • imagination
  • fantasy
  • colors
  • dimensions
  • relationships

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 

To be able to utilize the real added value of mind maps, working with them is bound by rules. In particular, the link is important between:

  • words
  • colors
  • to shape
  • drawings and other illustrations
create mind map
Subject in the middle; colored

Summary: Create a mind map

  1. use paper without lines
  2. place paper horizontally
  3. center: a drawing or picture of the subject
  4. some colored lines outwards: main branches
  5. each part a name: words ON the line
  6. then new lines: these words become thinner outwards, as with the branches of a tree.
  7. the words on the line, pictures at the end
  8. the further out, the words and drawings get smaller
  9. giving free rein to the mind …
  10. don’t finish branch by branch: try to discover connections


 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.

When working with mind maps you can further use the following suggestions:

  • 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 branches children can then think about questions such as: what? Who? true? how? when? why?
what can you do with a mind map?

Mind mapping can be used as a brainstorming tool

Mind mapping is a precursor to SYSTEM THINKING. Mind mapping is mainly about creative association, while in systems thinking ’cause-effect’ is central.

Mind map engaging education

Using visual resources

One of the hallmarks of systems thinking is the use of a variety of visual aids. They are useful and useful in many situations.

  • they meet the development of the visual world: from a “hearing and reading culture” to an interactive “seeing culture”;
  • visual aids support learning: making “pictures” and then storing them appears to be of great importance in the functioning of long-term memory;
  • they clarify relationships and connections and lead to a deeper understanding of reality;
Visualize mind maps

Using visualization

  • they offer opportunities to cater to different forms of intelligence
  • they offer us and the children opportunities to deal better with the enormous amount of information that is coming our way. You can use it to structure knowledge and facts;
  • they show that the world is not single, but much more complex;
  • they initiate communication, through which eg mental models are investigated and collaborative learning (team learning) is promoted;
  • they optimize self-reflection; they help children and teachers to explore their own ways of thinking.

Visual aids: types and uses

Below is a brief overview of the different “visual tools” that can be used. Brainstorming tools, Task-specific forms and system tools. These three shapes overlap. They are not arranged hierarchically, so you should do one first and then the other.

Nor is one tool better than another. Which tool you use depends on the goals you want to achieve in a particular lesson or activity. Furthermore, it is quite possible to deploy several of these resources based on one particular topic.

For example, at the start of a theme it is useful to create a word spider, a cluster or a mind map. In a later phase, organizers and charts can play an excellent role.


Source: Brainwork in the classroom, Robin Fogarty

Brainstorm tools

  • word spiders
  • clusters
  • mind maps
word spider word web
  • To acquire knowledge
  • To stimulate ideas
  • To start with a theme
  • To surface mental models
  • As a starting point for a conversation

Task-specific forms

  • Step-by-step schedules
  • Text structure forms (language-read teaching)
  • decision trees

For specific tasks and contents
For the purpose of learning to demonstrate that you have learned something about specific contents

Must be done with ad or at

Decision scheme

System tools

  • relationship circle
  • worn pattern chart
  • causal loop; archetypes
  • iceberg

System aids contribute to the transfer between the different subjects or components. It stimulates critical and cyclical learning to think.

relationship circle - mind map

About the author

Truus Römgens has years of practical experience in primary and special primary education. She started as a teacher in primary education. She then switched to special primary education where she worked as a teacher, internal counselor and remedial teacher. During the last ten years of her school career, she worked as a deputy school leader. Together with the team of SBO Het Palet in Weert and in the company Natural Learning BV, she helped shape the concept of fascinating education in a learning school. The many mind maps that she has designed and drawn are in many primary schools across the country. Most of these mind maps are included in the book ‘Don’t-have’, written by her partner Jan Jutten. Truus has been working at Natural Learning BV since 2009. Over the past three years, she has immersed herself in the knowledge of how the brain works because she is convinced that this knowledge can add value to optimizing the learning outcomes in 21st century education. With this book she wants to raise awareness about brain knowledge in order to build a bridge between science and education. Truus provides training on Brain & Learning, she provides coaching programs for schools that delve deeper into providing ‘Fascinating, yield-oriented education’ and she designs and draws various mind maps With this book she wants to raise awareness about brain knowledge in order to build a bridge between science and education. Truus provides training on Brain & Learning, she provides coaching programs for schools that delve deeper into providing ‘Fascinating, yield-oriented education’ and she designs and draws various mind maps With this book she wants to raise awareness about brain knowledge in order to build a bridge between science and education. Truus provides training on Brain & Learning, she provides coaching programs for schools that delve deeper into providing ‘Fascinating, yield-oriented education’ and she designs and draws various mind maps