It was close to 10:00 PM one Thursday evening. Study books, notebooks and brown butcher paper were scattered all over my dinner table, my computer was gently whirring. Stimulated by coffee and time-crunch adrenaline, I proceeded to plumb the depths of small business principles.
Over the next three hours, I learned more about supply and demand than I thought possible to be covered in three days. Mind mapping was a crucial tool in helping me study the vast amounts of information that were contained in this course.
This technique can also work for you. Here's how to leverage it regardless of the topic you're studying!
What is Mind Mapping?
My definition for mind mapping is: The process by which one synthesizes large volumes of previously incompatible information into a single thought process and generally records it on a large piece of paper.
Mind mapping is a completely revolutionary approach to note-taking. Instead of being confined to the limits of notebook paper and longitudinal lines, a student has the ability to take his thoughts into his own hands and put them on paper in such a way that recitation becomes second-nature.
Visualize the Information
Let me explain. Close your eyes and imagine a large piece of paper, perhaps three feet by four feet - by all accounts, a sizable piece. No lines are present; the paper is completely absent of writing of any kind.
That emptiness on the paper represents twelve square feet of space available to write anything you want to remind you of what you need to remember for your test. Quite certainly at this point it would be hard for anyone to mumble, “That’s not enough room.”
There We Are!
Now open your eyes. In a nutshell, the mind mapping method enables a student of any subject to record a large amount of information from textbooks, audio lessons and video lessons on only one piece of paper (perhaps not twelve square feet of it, but still a singularly large piece). Forget the hassle of taping numerous pieces of college-ruled paper together to form a mosaic of...well, not-so-easily-read notes.
Flexible and Visual
The chief goal of the mind mapper is to put all that information in one easily viewed place. Unity is key here. Now of course, no mind map is alike and not all mind maps are created equal.
Creativity is a huge part of this study element however, and whether the student decides to simply put what he would’ve originally put on a notepad on this large piece of paper, or whether the students gets a bit more involved and uses graphics, footnotes, etc. is completely up to him. But in a sense, that is what makes mind mapping so useable.
This tool is completely adaptable to whatever learning style appeals most to the student - as long as writing implements are involved. (Since most parents and teachers have their students use pen and paper at one point or another in their schooling, it is my belief that such an obstacle will not be hard to get around.)
More applicably, the CollegePlus! program and the mind mapping method fit together in a way that will be most satisfying to those who are enrolled with CollegePlus!.
Three Reasons Why
Now that the reader has grasped the general concept of mind mapping, the next question to ask is: why is it so important? As outlined earlier, the mind mapping method enables anyone to put a large amount of information into a single space to be recalled and reviewed later. The understandable impact is that the mind mapper has many of the barriers to learning removed.
With mind mapping, the focus becomes centered on the information itself, and leaves the plaguing, hair-pulling insanity of figuring out where to put all the notes where it should belong: the trash receptacle. Ideally, this study method should be taken very seriously and given the proper amount of time and devotion it requires.
There are three major benefits to being diligent with this method: joy in studying, confidence in test-taking, and increased retention and recall of the information.
Benefit Number One:
Joy. The studying experience is highly stereotyped in academics. Homework is framed as drudgery incarnate, fated never to arouse even the slightest attention from its disciples. This is a myth, plain and simple. Romans 15:4 states, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
The process of learning is meant to give us hope for a future, and hope is a cause for great joy. But more specifically, mind mapping gives anyone the ability to see what they’re learning without many of the hassles normally associated with stereotypical study habits. This tool unleashes the true power of productive learning.
Benefit Number Two:
Confidence. Because of the joy connected with studying that the student now has through mind mapping, the whole process will come easier and the student will be operating from a position of power, knowing that he knows the topic he is being tested on. Easily half of the stress associated with studying comes from the few minutes before the test. The sense of not knowing what specific questions will be asked weighs heavily on the test-taker.
Yet, using a mind map to study hard, reciting the notes from memory, and reviewing the material again takes the majority of that anxiety away. Having studied for over fifteen CLEP tests myself, many of them using the mind mapping method, I can guarantee that it works and that it does relieve anxiety.
Benefit Number Three:
Retention and Recall. You’ve taken the test, you’ve passed, what now? The true challenge for many students is keeping that information accessible and using it later in life. Arguably, the greatest treasure in any education is retaining that knowledge for application in the future.
Alfred North Whitehead, a renowned English mathematician turned philosopher said in his book Aims of Education and Other Essays, “Education is the acquisition of the art of the utilization of knowledge. This [is] an art very difficult to impart."
We must beware of what I will call "inert ideas" that is to say, ideas that are merely received into the mind without being utilized or tested or thrown into fresh combinations. Mind mapping is one the best tools you will find for retaining knowledge and using it later in life.
Who knows when or where you might need that information next? Thus the importance of mind mapping boils down to three easy-to-understand benefits: Joy, confidence, and retention. When this study method is practiced with due diligence, the results and benefits gained become of inestimable value.
To Sum It Up:
That one, fateful Thursday evening served as a lesson to me in two ways:
1) Mind mapping is an incredibly underestimated tool for learning large amounts of information quickly, and
2) Consistent and faithful studying is necessary for me to not just pass tests, but to enjoy the process of learning, and retain the information gained for years to come.
CollegePlus has spearheaded a monumental approach to Biblical education, but the success of its students does not rest solely on the foresight of its administration or the skillfulness and ingenuity of its coaches. The key to a successful and promising education through CollegePlus and whichever school you choose is the discipline you have in studying, the dedication you have to the goal of being learned men and women, and most importantly, your devotion to your walk with Christ.
Mind mapping can be a help if you choose to use it wisely, but it cannot be your savior. My prayer for you is that through CollegePlus, and in part, the mind mapping method, you will be embrace a life characterized by a desire to learn and through that, teach others. May God bless you richly on this journey!