dimanche 5 avril 2009

Lateral thinking and heuristic maps

De Bono's concept of "Lateral Thinking" has been rolling around in people's heads since his 1967 book, "The Use of Lateral Thinking" (Jonathan Cape, London). We saw, during his presentation at the e-Twinning comference in Prague, the persuasive power of visual representation through his constant sketching, including non-verbal pictures, diagrams and evocative labels. We watched and, in a way, participated in the organic growth as his ideas unfolded before our eyes, and captured his messages in a way very different from the way we perceive static representations of those same ideas.

"You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper"
Lateral thinking encourages and supports the learning process by freeing us from the linear approach of critical thinking, which is concerned with the "truth value" of ideas. Heuristic maps, whether done freehand or with mindmapping software like Freemind, Inspiration or Mind Manager, also support this "lateral thinking" approach by presenting a web of interlinked ideas. They encourage us to make the sort of intuitive leap from one set of concepts to another, while critical thinking with its step-by-step deductive logic tends to discourage such leaps. Here is an example of a heuristic map created during the Prague e-Twinning seminar:

Here is another example, presenting a training session in French for English teachers working on the CEFR and the "action-based approach":

In this context, I'd like to encourage exploration of two different but related resources.
The Litemind blog recently presented Dr. John Medina’s book, "Brain Rules", which presents 12 principles describing how our brain works best. There is a lot of food for thought concerning education and language learning, and a lot of useful notions for e-Twinning projects. Without going as far as reading the book itself, a brief exploration of a mindmap summary of the book could bring a lot of ideas to the discussion table.

2) The website "Visual Mapping" or "Heuristiquement" (in French) is a real breeding ground and meeting point for different approaches to mind mapping. I'm convinced that this kind of network-based visual representation of ideas could be highly useful both in presenting our e-Twinning projects and in encouraging students to interact more effectively with their e-Twinning partners.

Cheers, --- Philip Benz

Lycée Pierre et Marie Curie, Châteauroux
French e-Twinning ambassador

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