Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 85 - July 2012 - by Phil Chambers
Good Luck to Team GB in the London Olympics

Union Jack

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Welcome to the July 2012 issue of the Learning Technologies Newsletter. Please continue to forward it to friends and colleagues who you think would find it useful.

This month, as well as our regular quote of the month, Mind Mapping tip and what I have been up to lately, we have an article on how to avoid the trap of thinking in sentences and release creativity.


Mind Map Tip of the Month

Connect your main branches directly to the central image. Do not leave a gap around the centre - This wastes space and disrupts the connected flow of ideas.


July's Quote of the Month

"Creativity has more to do with the elimination
of the inessential than with inventing something new.

~ Helmut Jahn (born January 4, 1940) German-American architect.

More quotes here



What's Phil Up To?


Tony Buzan's Party

In June I attended Tony Buzan’s Birthday party. It was a wonderful evening spent on a riverboat on the Thames with good food and great company.

I have been involved the initiation of a project to take Mind Mapping and Memory techniques into a London school.

I am also continuing to implement Accelerated Learning principles in an Adult Education College and have done one-to-one coaching in Memory Techniques.


Don’t Sentence Your Creativity to Life Imprisonment

Having lunch with Tony Buzan recently, he cracked a joke that children are serving ‘sentences’ imprisoned by the restrictions of linear writing. As the saying goes, ‘there is many a true word spoken in jest’ and Tony is very rarely superficial in his comments.

This set me thinking… Obviously children need to understand how to construct well-formed and correctly punctuated sentences, but this is a totally different skill to thinking and creativity. In the ‘real’ world of business and commerce, innovation and creativity are what really count. To be creative you want to leave all avenues open. If you take a single word in isolation it can have a multitude of meanings and trigger countless ideas. As soon as you place it in a sentence you are restricting the meaning and taking away the freedom to associate. You are putting up walls, imprisoning the word.

Even worse, sentences funnel you down a path of more and more selective thinking. You write your first sentence. The second sentence follows on from the first. Maybe it develops or refines the theme, but you choose the sentence that best flows. At each point in a narrative you are making choices or selecting. Selective thinking is the enemy of creativity. You need to employ generative thinking to come up with as many solutions as possible.

Capturing thoughts using a Mind Map without imposing sentences allows you total freedom to come up with hundreds of ideas. You can stimulate idea generation using various techniques. These include…

  • Metaphors: Take a different situation, generate ideas and then relate them back to your challenge.

  • Reversal: Identify as many ways as possible to make the problem worse and then propose the opposite.

  • Provocation and movement: Make a ‘silly’ statement, imagine what would happen if this were true and what consequence would arise.

  • Daydreaming: let your mind wander – Do you come up with ideas in the shower, on long journeys like travelling on trains or planes, or when you go for a walk? Give your subconscious time to work on a problem.

  • Challenging your assumptions: What walls have you put up that you restrict your thinking? Give yourself permission to stray from convention.

  • Taking a different perspective: Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. How would scientist like Einstein approach the problem? What would a tough businessman like Alan Sugar say? How would a politician, a nurse or a psychotherapist see things?

Only once you have generated ideas do you evaluate which are most likely to be fruitful. With one or two really good ideas, you can develop them, flesh them out and finally articulate them in sentences.

Don’t serve a life sentence of sentences. Break your creativity out of jail.

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

Best Wishes