- Financial. If you have taken out a student loan, your budget is extremely limited, and you are put under immense pressure to pass each semester. You are also expected to manage your finances well enough to be able to live. The end-of-the-month Salticrax (South Africans will know the saying) becomes very real! You find yourself inviting yourself around to friends with money for meals frequently!
- Peer pressure. Dorm life, or Rez life can be very difficult. Either it can be a huge culture shock - especially here in South Africa, or it can be a huge temptation to a debauched lifestyle.
- Academics. This is a no-brainer.
The more ways you learn a fact, the better your chances are at remembering it."Let me back-track a little bit. I do apologize a little bit if this gets a little technical. In her brilliant book Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning Judy Willis explains that while we may stop growing neurons in our brain, we don't stop growing dendrites. Now, dendrites are outgrowths from neurons that grow as new things are learned. The more we learn, the more dendrites our brain grows. If we are learning a particular fact, it has been shown that the more ways we learn that fact, the more dendrites are created to enable us to remember that fact. So, let us take a rudimentary example of a language student learning a new word. Let's say you are learning Greek. First, you prime the process by writing the word out. Then you hear yourself say it a few times, and you hear a few different classmates say it a few times, and you hear your lecturer say it a few times. And you hear the word being used in an mp3 file that your lecturer plays for your - perhaps a reading of a Greek New Testament verse that contains that word. Then, later that day, while you are sitting around the lunch table, each of you and your friends practice saying the word in a sentence again. So, you have written it, heard it, and read it repeatedly. This results in more successful long-term memory storage and retrieval than just memorizing the definition of the word. If the word happens to be an object, then practice handling the object whilst talking about it. Maybe create a crazy story about the object as well and tell your friends about it. I promise you that you will all remember it easily! So, remember : The more ways you learn a fact, the better your chances are at remembering it!
I am a Christian. I have recently been having a lively and healthy discussion with my pastor, Clint Archer about the role of secular psychology as opposed to Biblical counseling. I asked him what his misgivings were with secular psychology in one paragraph (how's that for an unfair challenge!). He did an amazing job of summarizing his position and putting it across clearly and Biblically. You can read his post here. You can also read my responses below his post. You can tell by my responses that I was being quite self-righteous and little bit condescending. So, I decided to do a little exercise that I want to discuss with you today. I turned the tables on myself. I turned the question around and asked myself the exact same question. I spent more than a few days thinking about it, and do you want to know something very interesting? My answer was almost the same as his! My wording would have been slightly different, but essentially, my position and his position were almost the same, and my self-righteous posturing crumbled like a house of cards! It was a very humbling experience, but an absolutely essential one. So, I want to discuss four reasons turning the tables on yourself is essential in the academic world. 1. It forces you to examine your own assumptions. We all go into a discussion with our own presumptions and assumptions. We can be so blinded by our own presumptions that we are unable to listen to what the other person is saying. [As an aside : In the early years of college or university, your lecturers don't really expect you to think for yourselves. They expect you to accept what they tell you as a basis for your later years where you will be expected to think for yourselves more and more. My feeling, though, is that you should start developing this skill right from the start, because it is completely reasonable for you to begin to challenge your lecturers on what they teach.] By turning the question on yourself, you suddenly realize how biased your own question was in the first place. You realize that your question was asked because you were looking for an excuse to argue your own position. 2. It deepens your thinking ability.By flipping the direction of the question, you have to change the direction of your thoughts all of a sudden, and it forces your brain to expand its ability to think deeply about the matter at hand. While you were doing the asking, your brain had all the neural pathways literally lined up with your own way of thinking. But when you change that and put the question to yourself, you disrupt those pathways alarmingly! Now, your brain has to go into overdrive to start connecting new neural pathways as at ponders the question in a different light. 3. It makes you humble. This will be the most difficult part. No-one likes to be wrong, or to be humbled. Especially when they are passionate about a specific topic. But it is the best thing that can happen to you. A humble person is a teachable person. Show me an arrogant person and I will show you someone who is not teachable. At Medical School, those students who came across as being too cocky or arrogant made very few friends, especially during their practical exams! 4. It ultimately builds bridges.Especially where there was the initial risk that bridges might have been in jeopardy. By turning that question around towards myself, I was able to see that Clint and I are practically seeing eye to eye on an extremely important issue. If I had not done that, I could have risked misunderstanding him, and perhaps long-term could have risked affecting our friendship to a certain degree. Humility leads you to a point of finding common ground, which leads to understanding, which leads to building bridges instead of burning them.Those of you who know me know that
The Human:Holy-Spirit-Interface in Creative-Ideas-Generation for Evangelism and Witnessing Seminary students, y ou start out with hearts thumping with passion and zeal (See Clint's What Vets Can Teach Seminoids). You want to stand on soap boxes and preach to crowds (and would welcome the odd tomato thrown at you - just ask Clint). You want to go on Short Term Missions trips and play basketball with the bunch of guys that gather at the local court every Thursday afternoon and lead them all to Christ with passion. Then the academics hit you like a gloved George Foreman hand. Before too long, you are burying your head in John Owen, John MacArthur, John Piper, Jonathan Edwards (why so many Johns?). Why? Because you need to learn the Truth. In order to be able to teach your flock, you need to be able to teach. The main qualification of an elder is he must be able to teach. How can he teach if he has not been taught? So your Professors want to pump you full of as much information as possible, and to equip you to be able to continue learning and to teach others. But a significant side-effect of this is that your creative ideas for evangelizing may dry up. You know you are utterly unable to save anyone at all - it is entirely and completely a work of God through the Holy Spirit. But, God also gives us creativity. Just because we should rely on the Holy Spirit and prayer, it doesn’t mean we must sit on the park bench and expect someone to walk up to us and say “Please tell me how I must be saved?” It isn’t going to happen. This is where my secret weapon comes in. Here are four steps to use mindmapping techniques to stimulate your creativity... 1. Use life experience. Douglas Wilson says on page 23 of his excellent book Wordsmithy,
“When you are out and about, you are watching the gaudy show called life and are trying to learn from it. This is harder to do if you are busy being the star of the show.”Learn to use all your senses when you are out and about. When you go out for coffee, don’t just pull out your textbook and scribble study notes. Put away your books, sit back and watch people. Watch the way people interact with one another. Watch how people sit when they are obvious lovers. Volunteer at an orphanage; at an animal shelter. Do things that expose you to a variety of things in life. This all adds rich fodder to your imagination and to your experience. 2. Use the right material. You will need a large piece of paper (I like using an A1 or an A2 size piece of paper), and obviously a pen. I don’t like using computer software to do this kind of mindmapping. For brainstorming, you want to be able to see all of your ideas at one glance. And if you are coming up with 20 to 30 ideas, you want to be able to see them all at once. Included in the right material is the right space (a good sized desk), free from distractions (switch off your cell phones, close your laptop and put away your iPad), in the right frame of mind (well rested, spiritual affairs “in order”). Use multiple different colored pens and highlighters for grouping and highlighting and linking your ideas later one. If you have space on your wall in your study, you can later use that space to put your large brainstormed mindmaps on it. 3. Don’t edit as you write. I cannot stress this enough. Even if you think that your idea is completely far out and totally unrelated to witnessing and evangelism, write it down anyway. Do this for two reasons. First, the Holy Spirit has His own reasons for prompting the thought in you. Second, your brain may have a formed a dendritic connection somewhere deep in your frontal lobe that may only become apparent to you a little later in the brainstorming process. During the process of the brainstorming, your brain will start to connect those concepts subconsciously. Complex brain imaging has recently shown us that in a situation like this, even if we are working on something else, subconsciously, our brain will be attempting to find the neural pathway to connect what you wrote with the topic at hand. 4. Highlight and connect ideas that can be grouped together. After you are absolutely sure you have run out of ideas, leave your mindmap overnight. Come back to it the next morning and sit with it for about another 15 minutes or so and see if there are any new ideas that come to the fore. New brain imaging techniques have shown definitively that our brains process information and perform actual problem-solving during certain phases of sleep. That’s why the old adage “I’ll sleep on it” is actually true! Once you are sure your ideas have run out, haul out your highlighters and colored pens. Start to group your ideas and link them. At this point it is up to you if you want to create another mindmap that is neater and better organized. But you may be like me and become affectionately attached to your original mindmap! Whichever you choose, the main point here is chunking your ideas into cohesive groups that you can use in the final point. 5. Convert your chunks into plans of action. Now that you have chunked your information, it is time to convert those chunks into plans of action. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you can develop these action plans. I would suggest following the simple P.P.E.F. formula: a. Plan your strategy. Perhaps this means adjusting your schedule to allow you to go to that basketball court every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. b. Prepare for your action. This could take the form of ensuring you are fit enough and know enough to be able to easily fit in and play a good competitive game of basketball (although don’t be too competitive - winning isn’t your aim, remember!). Preparation could also take the form of learning about the neighborhood, the youth in the area, the needs in the area, major problems or issues in the community, or possible gang territories. Preparation could also take the form of becoming better in an area where you may be uncomfortable. Maybe you find it difficult to strike up a conversation. Well, guess what? There’s a book called Always Know what to Say by Peter Murphy that you can currently get on Amazon Kindle for free. Get creative. c. Execute the Plan. Now for some application of elastic hydrocarbon polymer to opus caementicium. (Rubber hits the concrete). There comes a time when you need transition from talking and thinking, to actual doing. So, just do it. But it might take time. Lots of it. It might take a few months to build friendships on that basketball court. Sometimes you cannot rush things. But, by the same token, you cannot let opportunities slip away. If an opportunity presents itself, grab it with both hands. d. Follow-up. This is where you bring you new prize fish to church. Introduce them to your friends at church (if they aren’t already involved in your action plan - hey, did I just give you an idea?). If they’ve declared a commitment to Christ, plug this new believer into your home-group. Bring him under your wing. Shepherd him, counsel him, teach him. You’ve got yourself a baby believer that needs the milk of the Word. Teach it lovingly and with passion and delight. And it all started with a silly old mindmap? No, it started with God, was carried out by God, was all about God, was completed by God, all for God’s glory. Related articles on Mindmaps:
Yesterday we looked briefly at some reasons why Mindmaps (C) can be good for your studying. Now let's dive head-first into the murky rock-pool waters of 5 secrets to Bad Mindmapping. 1. Use only one color. C'mon people, monochrome is an art-form for Fine Arts graduates, photographers and hipsters sitting in their penthouse Park Avenue Apartments sipping Skinny Latte'! Not for Mindmapping! 2. Use computer software that was designed in the 1980's. The free versions of Mind Manager are not worth it!If you are going to use computer software, fork out the bucks and make it worth your while! For your studies' sake, and your sanity's sake, those archaic factory-line monstrosities must go the way of the T. Rex! 3. Make every mindmap look the same. This is the best way to ensure that you get so confused that when asked the diagnostic criteria of Major Depressive Disorder, you write : "Morning sickness, breast tenderness, lack of a menstrual period and a positive ß-HCB blood test!" 4. Never use any images. Because, like, y'know, a picture is never worth... Oh well, whatever. Oh yes, and our Occipital lobes are really really tiny. Yip, that's it. 5. Start drawing without planning first. Either you end up trying to squeeze 95% of the information into the top left corner of the page, or you put all your information in the top right corner, leaving the rest of the page blank. And you will forever remind yourself what an idiot you were for not thinking ahead when you study that section.
patterns its information. 2. They chunk information more successfully, enabling the brain to remember more information in working memory, thus enabling it greater capacity to eventually drill it into long-term memory. 3. This chunking also enables the brain to create patterns with the information in and of itself. 4. They are visually exciting! They stimulate our large Occipital Lobes in our brains!
- How to Use Mindmaps to Create High Quality Content at Breakneck Speed (buildabetterblog.com)
- Surprise yourself! (schooledforlife.com)
- Managing Time Effectively Mindmap (slightlyinsightful.com)
- MindMapping (or iThoughts therefore iAm) (classroom201x.wordpress.com)
Fore-warning : this post is going to be longer than usual. We left Joburg yesterday for a five day holiday in the Underberg region of the Drakensberg mountains in Kwa-Zulu Natal here in South Africa. I decided to use my free GPS app on my iPad to direct us to Underberg. The problem was, I had forgotten that I had set it to “avoid motorways” and “shortest route” from two days before when I needed directions to Sue’s brother’s wedding venue! Well, I’m, sure you can guess the rest. We really did go the scenic route. I’m surprised my car and my trailer held together. The route we took is essentially a 4-by-4 only route! At one point we literally thought we would never be able to get out, either forward or backwards. To make matters worse, they were busy doing roadworks on these 4-by-4 roads!
- You cannot always plan for life. No matter how good your time-management skills are, no matter how disciplined your scheduling is, no matter how punctual you are, there are always going to be times when life will throw you a major curve ball. You will find yourself sitting in the proverbial driver’s seat of a 2-by-4 hatch-back with a trailer, wife and twin boys, stuck on a proverbial 4-by-4 road undergoing proverbial roadworks, facing a proverbial ditch, rocks and steep drop. If it happens to you, you are just going to have to man-up (and woman-up) and deal with it. Lecturers change. Deadlines change. Assignments change. Exams are moved around. Classmates stab you in the back.
- You need to adapt. Often, this adaptation has to happen very quickly. You need to learn how to handle a hatch-back and trailer on a dirt-road doing 70 km/h when you come upon a hole in the ground the size of Australia. You need to adapt quickly.
- Enjoy the scenery. Sometimes these curve-balls bring you places that you would never have gone on your own. What we were able to see from our vantage point was amazing beyond description. Sometimes these massive challenges will bring you to places where you are amazed by the subject you are doing, by the people you are working with, by the sheer beauty of God’s creation around you.