Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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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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