Skip to main content

Thinking authority is on the mind map

"WHAT do Singapore and Salsburgh have in common?" is a question that may not provoke an immediate response, especially from the residents of the North Lanarkshire village, but the answer was given at a conference in Motherwell last week.

Tony Buzan, one of the world's leading authorities on the brain and learning techniques, told delegates at the 10th North Lanarkshire "raising achievement" conference that the island state and the central belt council are the only places in the world that believe in making an investment in teaching the entire population to learn how to think.

Singapore, Mr Buzan said, "is watching North Lanarkshire like a hawk" as it sets about realising its ambition of creating "thinking schools, a learning society and an intelligent state".

Other countries watching with interest include Germany, Turkey, Ireland and the United States.

North Lanarkshire is the first authority in Scotland to form a partnership with Mr Buzan and Tapestry, a collaboration of educationists, politicians and other professional bodies committed to making "leading edge thinking" and research accessible.

The conference, which saw the launch of a major in-service initiative based on Mr Buzan's methods, heard him praise the collaborative effort: "What is extraordinary is that the different factions are working as a team. It is unusual and applaudable that the factionalism which exists in other countries has been avoided. I am here for as long as this initiative continues."

Dan Sweeney, head of quality support, told The TES Scotland that the authority is looking forward to giving its five-year-old raising achievement policy a "makeover".

Mr Buzan, chairman of the Brain Foundation, described the rationale of his "mind mapping" approach to learning and the applications and theory of mind mapping to exams, essay writing and creative thinking.

Teaching and learning could be improved, he said, by considering the duration and structure of lessons. No lesson should last more than an hour without a break and teachers should incorporate "keywords" at the beginning and then recap and recall at the end.

The middle of the lesson should be "bolstered" by techniques such as imagery and repetition and the end should be positive and enthusiastic. "Interest is prime," Mr Buzan said, "and the teacher should transfer his or her passion and interest to the children."

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you