Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 6 - November 2005 - by Phil Chambers

TIME TO READ: 5 minutes (Average Reader), 1 minute (Speed Reader) - Word Count: 1,121
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Welcome to the November issue of the Learning Technologies Newsletter.

This month as well as our regular quote of the month and Mind Mapping tip, we bring you news from the Chinese National Memory Championships plus some thoughts on Persistence and Beliefs.

Quote of the Month

"Obstacles don't have to stop you.
If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up.
Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it."

Michael Jordan

For many more quotes click here.

Mind Mapping Tip of the Month

If you are delivering a seminar away from your workplace, for example in a hotel, make a Mind Map of all the equipment and materials that you need. Highlight each item on the Mind Map as you pack your bags or load your car. This is much more effective than writing a linear list. The Mind Mapping process will generate more thoughts and hence a more complete and detailed list, thereby ensuring that you don't forget any vital piece of kit.

For another 100 tips on Mind Mapping see "101 Top Tips for Better Mind Maps" by Phil Chambers, available from our online shop, click here.


Chinese Championships

The first ever Chinese National Memory Championships were a resounding success with a very high standard of competition including 7 Grandmaster standard performances in the Speed Cards event. The final took place on 22nd and 23rd October in Shanghai presided over by World Memory Sports Council President - Tony Buzan, Chief Arbiter - Phil Chambers, eight times World Memory Champion - Dominic O'Brien and Malaysian mnemonist Princess Tengku Faizwa. The title of Chinese National Champion was won by Guo Yufeng with the silver and bronze medals going to Guo Chuanwei and Tang Shishe respectively. For full results click here.

Memory demonstrations at Shanghai Carnival (Photo Phil Chambers)

The competitors await the first test (Photo Tony Buzan)


Last Chance

Due to increased involvement in other projects we will be dramatically scaling down our London Open Course programme (covering Mind Mapping, Memory, Speed Reading and Study Skills) in 2006. Plans are not yet finalised, but it is expected to run no more than two courses a year with the next one not happening until April at the earliest. So our forthcoming course on November 26-27 is your last chance for about 6 months to benefit from our exceptional value training. Places are still available but as we limit the numbers to a maximum of fifteen we suggest that you book soon. For full details and online booking click here.


Memes, Monks and the Power of Persistence

I watched Stephen Spielberg's 2001 film "Artificial Intelligence: A.I." on TV recently. Whilst it is not a great movie, it set me thinking. If you haven't seen the film, it is the story of David, a robotic boy capable of emotions, especially unconditional love for his adoptive 'Mommy', Monica. David is abandoned by Monica when her biological son returns home after being saved form a previously incurable disease. The story centres around David's quest to find the Blue Fairy from the fairytale of Pinocchio who he believes will make him into a real boy and hence regain the love of Monica that he is programmed to need more than anything. The full plot and details can be found at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0212720/

David typifies persistence, an unshakable belief in the existence of the Blue Fairy and the faith that when he finds her all his problems will be solved. The belief is so strong that when he finds a statue of the fairy he waits two thousand years for his wish to be granted. It is important to define your goals and uncompromisingly pursue them. Persistence is a quality of Genius (See "Buzan's Book of Genius" by Tony Buzan and Raymond Keene) but it needs to be coupled with adaptability and the flexibility to change approach based on new evidence -To allow yourself the flexibility to try different paths when confronted with obstacles. Thomas Edison famously tried thousands of different materials to find a long lasting filament for his electric light bulb before his 1879 discovery of a carbon filament in an oxygen-free bulb

The old adage "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again" neglects the need to adapt. Madness can be defined as carrying on doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

In his book "The Age Heresy", also written with Raymond Keene, Buzan offers the acronym TEFCAS to explain the process of adjustment and improvement:

TRIAL - An attempted action that results in an...

EVENT - Something happens that can be either positive or negative but always provides...

FEEDBACK - New information that you can use to plan your next step.

CHECK your approach against your goals or with someone else and

ADJUST what you are doing. Repeating this process many times eventually leads to...


Voltaire (French Philosopher and Writer. 1694-1778) gives a different but related definition of madness, "To have erroneous perceptions [beliefs] and to reason correctly from them". Douglas Adams elegantly describes unquestioning, erroneous belief in his book "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" with the character of the Electric Monk: "The Electric Monk was a labour-saving device, like a dishwasher or a video recorder. Dishwashers washed tedious dishes for you, thus saving you the bother of washing them yourself, video recorders watched tedious television for you, thus saving you the bother of looking at it yourself; Electric Monks believed things for you, thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe." Evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, a great friend of Adams, takes this idea further talking about mind viruses (memes or beliefs that spread like computer viruses from person to person). Children are pre-programmed to unquestioningly absorbing useful information at a rapid rate but are equally able to absorb damaging beliefs. As adults we need to challenge our beliefs and assess whether they are empowering or limiting.

What are your goals? Do you pursue them with resourceful persistence or blind dogged belief? What can you do differently today that might take you a step nearer to your goals?

That's all for this month. Please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions. (Contact Details Here.) I look forward to hearing from you.

Wishing our UK subscribers a happy and safe Guy Fawkes Night on November 5th.