Mind maps are used to explore a central idea and thinking up new and related ideas that stem from the centre. By exploring and focusing on the relationship between key ideas and putting them into your own words you are able to get many new perspectives. The relationships, causes, consequences, alternatives, competing factors, catalysts and restrictions of one factor interacting with another is part of the complex world we live in. Learning to map your understanding of ideas and their significance on other factors will help you to understand new information in a complex way and to remember what you are learning.
Relationships and patterns
Nearly all learning is about relationships and recognising patterns. It may be about how people relate to one another or how the moon affects the tides. Much of science is about understanding the relationship of one thing in the physical world on another. In English students read novels to study the relationships between individuals or even our relationship with ourselves. Leadership is about understanding how people relate to one another and a task that needs to be done.
Words such as multi-dimensional or complex are often used to describe the world we live in and the relationships that are formed within it. It is because the world is complex that there are many different perspectives to take on issues.
Learning requires us to make a connection with information and understand the cause and effect of one factor on another and another and another… Our ability to predict what will happen depends on our ability to observe what has happened and this often depends on our ability to understand ourselves.
4 Steps to making a mind map
Step 1 – Linier Thinking
- Write down a list of key words or concepts.
- Use lines, colours, arrows or some other way to show the connections generated by your mind.
- These connections will help you explore different perspectives.
- Using your own symbols will help to make the learning easier for you to remember.
Step 2 – Non Linier Thinking
- This step needs to be done quickly and without judgment.
- Identify one idea as being the central idea and write it in the middle of a large piece of paper.
- Write down all of the key ideas on a piece of paper around the main idea. A little like an octopus, the central idea being the body and the other ideas being the tip of its tentacles or legs. These should be written like headings with capitals.
- Non linier thinking promotes creative thinking and individual ideas.
- Make a list of as many possibilities as you can around your central idea.
- Leave lots of space between ideas.
Step 3 Exploring
- Look for relationships between the ideas. (Write down the causes, consequences, alternatives, competing factors, connections, catalysts and restrictions.)
- Think about feelings, motivations and patterns.
- Think about what is not there that you would expect to be there. What is missing?
- Who benefits from an action?
- Who suffers from an action?
- Ask yourself the questions of who, where, when, how and why.
- Think about how people react differently.
- Think about what the alternatives were.
- Think about the way one set of circumstances influences another.
- Think about lessons to be learnt from mistakes and successes.
Step 4 Reflect
- Re-evaluate your central idea.
- What other themes have evolved or submerged?
- Try this again with a different central idea and see if you get a different perspective on the story.