Monday, February 16, 2004

Mind Maps

Some years ago, my boss told me that the mind map I had created wasn't really a proper mind map, a la Buzan. I was a bit puzzled by that statement, since I had used mind maps (effectively and usefully) since 13 - it was almost the first lesson we were taught in Sec 1 for English

(Which just shows you how enlightened my teachers were. Lessons were not just about transferring ideas from teacher to student, but about training thinking. My Maths teacher's first lesson to us in Sec 1 was long division - in bases 3, 8 and 12. I puked in the school bus on the way home trying to solve the problems, which may have something to do with the aversion I felt towards Maths in subsequent years, but it really made me think)

Well, having just borrowed and read a book on mind maps, I discover that he was right - I have been using non-regulation, non-official mind maps all along.

Which puzzles me. Possibly the most useful thing about the mind mapping technique is the basic recognition that a non-linear, non-verbal approach is better at reflecting the unique structures of each mind/thought process. Once that basic understanding is there, and you've broken out of the straitjacket of thinking that all ideas have to be written/word-based/linear, it's a bit pointless (and counter to the spirit of mind mapping) to prescribe a fixed method - such as writing the words along the lines, or always using the paper in landscape mode, or always orienting all words in the same way. Granted, there are good reasons given for each of these, but we're all different, with slightly different minds and thinking processes.

Creativity must be one of the toughest things to write an instructional book on - after all, the very prescriptiveness of an instruction book goes counter to the individuality suggetsed in creativity, and if the book doesn't prescribe, but suggests possibilities, people may not want to pay money to hear vague suggestions.

No comments: