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"The words of the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanisms of thought. The physical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be voluntarily combined." –Albert Einstein
Human Brain & Learning
Did you know that approximately 3/4 of our brain’s sensory resources are dedicated to vision? That leaves only 1/4 for all the other senses combined! And, according to Dual Coding Theory, we process verbal and visual information with different parts of the brain. In other words, when we work only with words, we’re only using half of our brain.
Learning depends on both hemispheres of the brain: left hemisphere (verbal, logical, sequential, analysis) and right hemisphere (visual, emotional, intuitive, non-linear, big picture, synthesis). Hence, to make use of your whole brain, you must put your visual thinking into play with verbal thinking. Why not use your full brain?!
Visual thinkers are a powerful community of creative leaders from around the world who share a common passion for bringing information and ideas to life visually.
So what is visual thinking?
Wikipedia’s definition: “… visual thinking … is the common phenomenon of thinking through visual processing using the part of the brain that is emotional and creative to organize information in an intuitive and simultaneous way.”
My favorite definition is from the Visual Thinking School: “Visual thinking is about using pictures to help you solve problems, think about complex issues and communicate more effectively.”
All visual thinkers share a passion of visualizing information – facts, data, ideas, subjects, issues, questions, etc. – all with the minimum of words. However, note that visual thinking is a very personal definition to many people, where different people have preferences for different visual tools and approaches.
To learn more about visual thinking, visit my collection of great resources on visual thinking.
Visual Thinking & Learning
My personal passion is the use of visual thinking and mapping in learning – understanding the world, transforming information into knowledge, cutting through the clutter, revealing hidden connections, discovering patterns, and creating new ideas.
The current teacher-centered model of education generally ignores half of the student’s mental capacity (the visual half). A visual tool that has been found useful in tapping into that neglected portion of the brain is mind mapping. Construction of mind maps forces students to sort through information and make meaning of information through organization and connection of concepts. Advances in classroom technology now offer various advanced mind mapping and visual tools, which are slowly becoming essential components of a student-centered classroom environment.
Benefits of Visual Thinking
There are many, including:
- Capturing information in a visual way
- Seeing the big picture and details
- Connecting new information to existing knowledge
- Navigating information by asking the right questions
- Fostering creativity and freeing your imagination
- Enhancing dialogue with peers
The process of translating visual thinking onto paper (or electronic paper) is visual mapping. A visual mapper combines words and images to create a visual record of the spoken and written words – literally revealing the “big picture.”
The value of visual mapping goes well beyond the “wow” factor of creating a pretty picture, map, or diagram. Research has shown that most people (~80%) of the population are visual thinkers, as evidenced by metaphors used in everyday language, such as “do you see what I mean?”, “I get the picture,” or “here’s what it looks.” So, it is not surprising that students regularly comment that seeing a picture of course material helps them understand better than a written notes and text ever could.
Visual Thinking Resources
If you’re getting that inkling you may be a visual thinker, want to learn more about visual thinking and mind mapping, need a visual facilitator (to lead the meeting) or recorder (to capture the meeting) for your meeting/conference, contact me and let’s chat.