Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 93 - April 2013 - by Phil Chambers


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Welcome to the April 2013 issue of the Learning Technologies Newsletter. Please continue to forward it to friends and colleagues who you think would find it useful.

This month we have an article on studying literature plus our regular features of quote of the month, Mind Mapping tip and what I’m up to.


April's Quote of the Month

"It has become almost a cliché to remark that
nobody boasts of ignorance of literature,
but it is socially acceptable to
boast ignorance of science and
proudly claim incompetence in mathematics.

~Richard Dawkins

You can achieve excellence in any subject you choose if you have the right study formula and devote time and energy to it.

More quotes here



What's Phil Up To?



I have been travelling a lot recently: Teaching Mind Mapping in Russia and overseeing memory championships in Italy and Wales.

In April I will be teaching new ThinkBuzan Licensed Memory Instructors with Tony Buzan in Henley.


Mind Mapping Tip of the Month.

Keep personal information on you Mind Maps secret by using or devising a code. Lex McKee substitutes English letters with their Greek equivalents. Leonardo da Vinci famously used mirror writing to keep his notebooks secret. You could even use Morse code or a visual representation of Braille but it may be a little time consuming drawing all the dots or dashes. If you use iMindMap you can export a Mind Map to a PDF file and then password protect it in Acrobat.


How to Study Literature

Many people feel intimidated by Literature. They feel that they must take it terribly seriously, treat great works with reverence and go into detailed analysis. This is not necessary to appreciate literature. After all William Shakespeare wrote his plays to be performed as entertainment, not be dissected and studied. That it not to say that they are not worthy of study, they certainly are, but they can also be enjoyed as cracking good stories. If you find the language impenetrable go and see the play performed and it suddenly makes a lot more sense. You could even watch a modern adaptation. For example, 'West Side Story' is essentially 'Romeo and Juliet'.

If you do want to study literature in detail there are six main areas to consider.

1) Viewpoint

This concerns the mechanics of how the story is told. Is the author acting as an all knowing narrator, standing apart and describing the past, present, future and events as they unfold? Alternatively, is he or she taking the place of a character and writing in the first person?

2) Language, Style and Imagery

Think about the author's choice of words. Shakespeare uses a combination of non-rhyming 'blank verse' and rhyming couplets, often at the end of a speech. For example, in Macbeth the witches say, "When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?", "When the hurly-burly’s done; When the battle's lost and won." What literacy devices such as imagery are used? How do these set the mood of the scenes in the book or play?

3) Setting and Atmosphere

How do the scenes reflect the story? Is it simply a place for the action to take place or is it acting a metaphor? For example, a rugged landscape and a storm to reflect a character’s emotional turmoil.

4) Characterisation

How are the characters developed? Are they multi-faceted and real or more two-dimensional? How are their relationships revealed? How does the author describe them? How does he or she arouse feelings of sympathy, pity or dislike for them?

5) Plot and Structure

What actually happens in the story? How is it organised into chapters and scenes? Does the action take place in different time periods with flashbacks or is it in strict chronological order?

6) Social and Historical Context

What social and cultural influences are portrayed in the book. For example, Animal Farm by George Orwell was an allegory of the Russian Revolution and commentary on corruption and human nature. How is the author influenced by the audience and beliefs or their time? Is the work topical or timeless?

To help keep the six areas in mind you could use the headings as the main branches of a Mind Map. These can then be a expanded and elaborated upon in detail after reading each chapter.

Literature Mind Map

Whether you want to just enjoy a good story or delve into the depths of how a book is crafted the choice is yours.

That’s it for this month. I’ll be back in touch with the next newsletter in early May.

Best Wishes