Mind maps shine new light on school lessons

Published: 14/06/2011 05:00



VietNamNet BridgeFourteen-year-old high school student Nguyen Huyen Trang no longer dreads literature lessons. Far from it – her eyes light up at the mere mention of fiction, poetry, drama and criticism.

Dr Tran Dinh Chau (first
left), director of the Vietnamese Education Ministry’s Junior High School
Education Development Project II, and vice-principal of To Hoang Junior High
School Nguyen Thi Thuan (second right) explain the beauty of mind maps. (Photos:

And she is not alone, all her 50 classmates have discovered a greater interest in learning, thanks to mind mapping – a teaching technique that uses diagrams to represent words, ideas and tasks in a colourful and creative way.

“Mind mapping helps me remember the lesson more easily. Besides, I like drawing so I find mind mapping an interesting and effective way of learning,” said Trang, of To Hoang Junior High School.

While discussing Huy Can’s poem Doan Thuyen Danh Ca (Fishing Boats), Trang draws a boat in the centre of a piece of paper on which is written a few words about the author. Meanwhile, a description of the poem is represented on fish swimming in the sea, while the artistic content of the work is written on waves.

“With this model of learning, it helps me to overcome the boredom of learning literature,” Trang said. Lessons are now colourful and creative, more intuitive than linear.

To Hoang Junior High School adopted mind mapping as a teaching aid last year in a number of subjects such as literature, mathematics, English language, geography, biology and history – though the technique can be used to record any kind of information.

Nguyen Thi Thuan, the school’s vice rector, said teachers first attended a training course before applying the model in class.

The walls of her office are adorned with mind maps made by teachers and pupils. “The weakness of Vietnamese pupils is that they can think logically but not creatively. Mind mapping can help them overcome that weakness,” she said.

A mind map for the poem Doan Thuyen Danh Ca (Fishing boats) by Nguyen Huyen Trang, a pupil at To Hoang Junior High School.

Thuan, who teaches literature, said mind maps were an interesting and natural way of summarising information.

“Moreover, they [the pupils] can express themselves by drawing and writing according to their own way of thinking. That learning model suits all ages,” Thuan said, adding that the teaching technique had been well received by both pupils and teachers.

Though mind mapping is relatively new to schools in Viet Nam, Dr Tran Dinh Chau, director of the Vietnamese Education Ministry’s Junior High School Education Development Project II, was introduced to the concept by his daughter in 2006, when she was in junior high school in Singapore. He was an immediate convert and said he was determined to introduce mind mapping to Viet Nam. “I prefer things that are new and fresh,” he said.

He and some colleagues at the Vietnamese Education Ministry’s Institute of Education Science studied books by the creator of mind mapping, British psychologist Tony Buzan.

They later formulated guidelines for junior high school teachers.

“From our reading we learnt that our brain understands information more deeply and remembers it for longer if we write and draw memory maps ourselves,” Chau said.

“Mind mapping helps pupils learn in a positive way and mobilise the brain’s maximum capacity.”

With the help of the research team, educators in Viet Nam began introducing mind maps to schools in Ha Noi and the northern province of Bac Giang in 2010. Training courses were also organised for teachers.

“Designing mind maps helps teachers be more creative in class,” Chau said.

Another advantage is the cost.

“Teaching with mind maps doesn’t need a big investment. Teachers need plain white paper, coloured pens and a creative mind.”

Chau said a great many pupils still don’t know how to record knowledge creatively and therefore fail to absorb knowledge efficiently.

“They often learn by heart so don’t remember key information, and fail to see the links between different ideas and topics,” Chau said.

Under the project launched by Chau about 200 junior high school teachers in Ha Noi, HCM City and a number of other provinces have been trained in mind mapping.

Meanwhile, Thuan, a firm believer in the teaching technique, said she hoped more and more schools adopted the learning strategy and dispensed with lists and rote learning.

“It helps us and our pupils escape the well-trodden track of traditional, linear thinking. Mind mapping forces us to think creatively and logically,” she said.

VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

Provide by Vietnam Travel

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