Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 29 - November 2007 - by Phil Chambers

THIS MONTH - TRICK OR TREAT - WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM ILLUSIONS

TIME TO READ: 3 minutes (Average Reader), less than half a minute (Speed Reader) - Word Count: 699. To learn more about Speed Reading Contact us.

If you are not a subscriber to the newsletter click here and fill in your name and e-mail address at the top of the page.

Welcome to the November 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 our regular Quote and Mind Map Tip of the month. The main article examines visual illusions and what they can teach us about learning.

November's Quote of the Month

He's not stupid; he's possessed by a retarded ghost.

-Unknown

(we can exorcise retarded ghosts to reveal your true, innate genius)

For many more quotes click here.

Mind Map Tip of the Month

Remember that you should always try to draw a central image rather than write a word. Images add visual variety to your Mind Maps. If each Mind Map has a word in the middle they become very similar in appearance and can be confused in your memory. If you absolutely have to use a word, make it as visually interesting as possible by using unusual lettering, colours, patterns, etc.

Trick or Treat?

This month I want to treat you to some fun visual tricks and examine the consequences for learning, attitude and memory.

Look at the picture below and see if you can work our what it is.

It is actually a dalmation dog*. The dog's head is in the centre of the picture. It is walking away from you towards the dark area in the upper left hand corner with its head down sniffing the ground. Do you see it now?

Once you have seen the dog you cannot 'un-see' it. A new pathway of linked neurons has been created in your brain that has made sense of the otherwise random pattern of light and dark patches. The brain loves to find meaning and a strong memory of the dog was laid down in that 'aha moment' when you saw it.

The best learning is fun and playful. When you suddenly see something with crystal clarity that had seemed puzzling and difficult it is truly what great learning is all about. One of the key principles of accelerated learning is helping learners to contextualise their learning so that it fits with their 'model of the world'. Seeing is mainly a function of the brain. The information that we get form the eyes merely updates this internal model of the world. Not only what you think but what you perceive is largely influenced by context and memory. Look at the picture of a skull below...

Now look more closely - It is a picture of a lady looking in a mirror**. The left eye socket of the skull is her head and the right eye socket is her reflection. Because I told you it was a skull and the context that today is Halloween, that is probably what you saw first.

Illusions provide an analogy for life. If you are faced with a problem - think about what assumptions you are making. It is said that to ASSUME makes an ASS of yoU and ME. Can you 'see' things from a different angle. Take someone else's point of view. Try to get the bigger picture and the context.

*Dalmation dog illusion created by Richard L Gregory, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol.

**Skull illusion entitled 'All is Vanity' by Charles Allan Gilbert, American Illustrator, 1873 - 1929


That's all for this month. If you have any comments, suggestions or would like more information about our courses please feel free to contact me.

P.S. I will be running a 2 day course in the West Midlands area, England on 17-18 November. This will cover Mind Mapping, Memory, Speed Reading plus some study skills. Pricing £300 + VAT per person. Please let me know if you would like to attend and I will send you full details of the timings, venue and payment details.