My Week With Tony Buzan

Well I have just had a great week because I have managed to spend 3 days with Mr Tony Buzan my mentor in the field of Memory, Learning and Thinking.  It has been a few years since I have worked with Tony.

The last time was in 2000 when I was the organiser of the World Memory Championships.  Our paths had briefly crossed a couple of times but this was the first time in a few years that I have been able to spend some quality time with the originator and inventor of the Mind Map.

At the start of the week I was privileged to sit in on a 2 day session he was running with a group of teachers training them to not only Mind Map but also teach their pupils how to use this ground breaking thinking tool.

I won’t wax lyrical on the benefits of this amazing tool right now (but don’t worry I will if you keep coming back here!!) but it did literally change my life and took me from my previous career  to the one I have now where I am able to share ideas like Tony’s Mind Mapping tool with literally thousands of people every year.

I have been using Mind Maps for over 12 years now and have been teaching them for 8 years and after a while you start to think that you know what you are talking about.  Well I was humbled in the presence of the great man himself and got so much more from watching him work with this group of teachers and made new distinctions about Mind Mapping and how to use and teach them.

There is always so much more to learn and if you have “tried” Mind Maps and don’t think that they are for you then you have really missed something.  I got such a deeper understanding of their power and importance in the way that we can harness our genius potential from those 2 days with Tony and over the coming months I will share some of those insights with you.

Here is a picture of me with Tony, just before he asked me to share with the group my experience of sharing Mind Maps with teachers over the last 6 years of working with Positively MAD.

And then on Thursday (yesterday) I watched Tony debate Curriculum or Creativity with Mr Chris Woodhead, former Chief Inspector of Schools at the Education show at the NEC in Birmingham.  It was a very interesting debate and quite a privilege to see two very competent but very different speakers put forward their views.

Tony had his say first and created a very compelling case for the need to first teach “How” to learn and then teach “What” to learn.  His last statement was that there is no debate between Curriculum and Creativity, they must both be present for an effective education system that meets the needs of society today.

Chris Woodhead got up and apart from Tony’s last statement pretty much disagreed with everything that he had to say.

It was fascinating to watch the arguments unfold on both sides but at the end I cam to the conclusion that Chris Woodhead was right – but he was only right from his context.  He was arguing for a system from within that system and his arguments could therefore be justified by that system.

Tony was speaking from outside of the system and with his vision limited by his hundreds of years in education, Chris Woodhead was never going to see Tony’s view.

What I have seen in my time working in schools with Positively MAD is that the system needs to change to harness the inherent creativity of our children (instead of inhibiting it) and create an environment that allows for much more effective learning.

I don’t know if Tony has all of the answers or whether he is right in everything that he says, but I do know that tools from the field of Accelerated Learning like Mind Maps, Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences need to be given greater prominence in the schools of today and of course the schools of the future.