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Mind Mapping – Maximising the Benefits of Using in the Classroom

Ms. Sandra Carter

An Overview

Mind mapping is a concept that is very close to my heart.  It’s not a new concept, in fact Tony Buzan brought mind mapping onto the stage in the 1970s.  However, its age doesn’t make it any less useful.  Additionally, in this course, we have been combining mind mapping with 2 other concepts often used in education, which has made it even more powerful:  Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats and Creative Brainstorming theories work amazingly well alongside mind-mapping.  Mind mapping is useful for teachers primarily as an organisational tool and for students, one of the best uses is for revision or as a memory aid. 

What Research Says

Mind mapping is a graphical way to represent ideas and concepts around a central idea or subject.   It is a visual thinking tool that helps with understanding, recollection, analysis, synthesis, and the generation of new ideas.  Promethius, 2023.  If we consider the range of jobs in the average teachers’ week, it’s easy to see why Mind Mapping would be a useful tool.  However, the usefulness doesn’t stop with teachers.  Mind Mapping can be equally useful for students, especially for visual learners and especially when studying and revising for exams. Whilst any visual representation of ideas could be referred to as a mind map, here we are looking specifically at Mind Mapping, popularized by Tony Buzan.  He recommends 7 steps to successful Mind Mapping:

  • Step1: Brainstorm A Central Idea
  • Step2: Come Up With An Impressive Image
  • Step3: Color Your Map
  • Step4: Create Connections
  • Step5: Make Your Branches Curved
  • Step6: Use Single Key Words
  • Step7: Replace Words with Pictures

(Mind Mapping and 7 Key Steps by Tony Buzan for Developing Mindmaps (

If we then add 2 further tools to our arsenal; Creative Brainstorming and Parallel Thinking (more specifically Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats), we have powerful ways to study and be organized.

Creative Brainstorming is simply a method of brainstorming with a basic set of rules.   The rules are set to encourage participants to build on the ideas of others and to generate as many ideas as possible, without evaluating usefulness too early. The lack of immediate feedback empowers people to share ideas more openly without the fear of failure or disapproval. (Brainstorming: Definition, Ground Rules, and Techniques (

Parallel Thinking is a co-operative and coordinated thinking approach, and Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats is an example of this approach.  (What is Parallel Thinking? Definition and meaning (  It fits particularly well with Mind Mapping as you can organize your Mind Map according to the Six ‘types of thinking’.  To give a flavor of the approach, here are the six ‘hats’ and the type of thinking they represent. 

By thinking in the same way, at any one time, we cut down on the amount of debating and work together.  We all know that someone who always wants the last word?  Here, the more ideas generated in any theme, the better.  There are no points for judging the ideas of others, until everyone is doing so – with the black hat.

Practical Ways to Use These Concepts

Mind Mapping is indispensable for students and teachers alike.  Revising or learning a specific subject is probably the most useful for students, having the topic as the central theme and then having branches from this with all sub topics.  The use of pictures would be important as would the use of colour.  Coming up to an exam, students can put the Maps on a few walls (bedroom and desk area for example), in order to provide subliminal messages too.  How many students struggle with organization when it comes to studying?  Mind Maps can be used in the generation of a study timetable but can also be used as a visual representation of the timetable.  For teachers, just think of the many, many times they have to organize events, lessons, rooms etc and a Mind Map can be used for any of these.  They just need to give themselves a central theme and add branches for sub sections.  Imagine these scenarios: 

A school is considering going online for 1 day per week and face to face on the other days.

A school is considering changing our curriculum to the IB curriculum.

A school is considering making the school day shorter with shorter breaks.

Using the Six Thinking Hats and Parallel Thinking a team can start generating ideas, using the hats and recording them on a Mind Map with branches for each of the hats.  In a similar way, students can come up with as many ideas as possible for their next school visit.  It needs to be educational, so they will use either the six thinking hats or creative brainstorming and the Mind Map to show their results.  

Find more details in the discussion forum