Letters

Letters 8-18-2014

The Climate Clarified

Climate change isn’t an easy subject. A class I’m taking compared it to medicine in a way that was helpful for me: Climate scientists are like planetary physicians. Our understanding of medicine is incomplete, but what we know is useful...

Beware Non-Locally Grown

The article “Farm Fresh?” couldn’t be any more true than exactly stated. As an avid shopper at the local farm markets I want to know “exactly” what I am buying, from GMO free to organic or not organic, sprayed or not sprayed and with what...

Media Bias Must End

I wish to thank Joel Weberman for his letter “Seeking Balanced Israel Coverage.” The pro-Palestinian bias includes TV news coverage...

Proud of My President

The world is a mess. According to many conservative voices, it would not be in such a mess if Obama was not the president. I am finally understanding that the problem with our president is that he is too thoughtful, too rational, too realistic, too inclined to see things differently and change his mind, too compassionate to be the leader of a free world...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Picture This...new tutoring...
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Picture This...new tutoring center in TC uses mind maps

Anne Stanton - March 2nd, 2009
Picture This...new tutoring center in TC uses mind maps
Anne Stanton 3/2/09

The mind is a wondrous thing, and even more wondrous when it can picture or visualize a new concept.
That’s the philosophy of Brian Lynch, director of the gleaming icon Learning tutoring center above Cuppa Joe’s in Traverse City’s warehouse district. (Note: the business intentionally spells its name, “icon,” in the lower case.)
The tutoring center opened in January, but a dozen educators across the country have been working for years on developing this new visual learning system. The education team believes that students should be taught the big picture of a particular subject before getting to the details. That way the brain develops an organized matrix of the topic and can fit in events and facts where they make sense and connect to other facts.
“For example, you might ask a student what came first: the Revolutionary War or the Civil War. Some students don’t know because they don’t have the big picture of our country’s history. Too often, teachers give a little piece here and a little piece there, but the student doesn’t know the whole picture.”
And all that disorganized information is easily forgettable.

VISUAL LEARNING
Icon learning organizes the information in what are called image maps that use visual mnemonics—funny images that makes something easy to remember. There’s a big emphasis on humor. “We know people retain information best if it’s sexual, humorous or grotesque. In education, of course, we can only tap into humorous,” Lynch said.
Every time a new concept is introduced—the biography of a president, for example—the student is asked to reference back to the image map and place the information into the order it belongs. These image maps or word webs let the student quickly plot and connect large amounts of information.
“I’m a tough sell when it comes to new concepts. So I started applying this to my classes,” said Lynch, who teaches government at a Traverse City charter school. “I used word web maps in my class, visual learning images, and funny icons for class one. For class two, I taught in the traditional way. On the next exam, class one did much better. So then to make sure it wasn’t a case of class one having a higher percentage of smarter kids, I flipped the approach, and class two scored markedly higher.”
Lynch said the icon development team has correlated its lessons—for students in grades three through 12—with the State of Michigan’s education requirements. The approach encompasses all topics except foreign languages.

ALL AGES
The visual learning approach also has value for all ages no matter where they are in life. If you’ve returned to college for a new degree, this visual learning approach might be of great value, he said.
“I have found that all people can visualize and have pictures floating around their heads. If I flash a two-second picture, a person can retain far more than if I flash a block of words. There’s the cliché, a picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s true.”
Images are retained in long-term memory much better than text alone and allow you to think more expansively.
“What’s the third letter before the letter M? If you think visually, you’ll know it right away because you can picture the alphabet. If you can picture it in your head, you can easily move forward in time and backward.
“There are a lot of applications beyond education. People in business use this approach frequently. Parts of it have been implemented in schools, but it’s difficult to change tradition. That’s why our group decided to try it with a private tutoring center. The thinking is, if we can successfully introduce it in Traverse City, it can work anywhere in the country,” said Lynch.


 
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