Tag Archives: Concept Mapping

Note taking tips – Notes matter

As I sit in business and board meetings, I notice that few people take notes.

Note taking as a path to success

I wonder if they have better memories than I do, but then,  I realize that they have been trained, like most of our society, to let content wash gently over them and pass by un-noted, un-synthesized, un-digested.

One of the most powerful differentiators I’ve found in life, both in academic and professional settings is the skill and habit of taking clear notes.

I came across an interesting piece in the Atlantic recently re: note taking with some important tips and perspective on note taking.

If civilization is based on learning from and building upon the best thinking that’s gone before, then note taking must be one of the keys to building or at least fighting entropy in our civilization.

I do not agree that the best notes are taken on a PC.  I may be old school, but I can write/draw/think much more quickly with pen and paper than I can with a computer.  If some hand-written notes turn out to benefit from digitization later, I can quickly dictate them into text using my Android phone.  Capture and synthesis the most difficult and valuable part of the process, digitization falls far down on my list of priorities.

The last point in the Atlantic article mentions note’s usefulness in court, but I find them useful in any setting where differences in recall or opinion might creep in.  The power of the scribe is a well-known and very useful phenomena, essentially, the person who creates the written record (notes, legal agreements, historical interpretations, etc.) have a special power over the written record of the event.  Harold Innis has an interesting perspective on the power of the scribe through history and in the refinement or entropy of our current civilization.

I came across a very simple implementation of the ideas from the Atlantic article in the Cornell Note Taking Method.

Duly noted!

 

How I Teach

Technique

I work on the premise that iron sharpens iron.

To advance intellectually, we must run the mind up against even harder and sharper steel in the form of great writing about great ideas by great people.   I work to ensure that this interaction creates the quantity and quality of friction that sharpens without cutting.  See Mortimer Adler speak on this topic here (highly recommended)

To that end, I seek to hold creative tensions between:

  • Edifying challenge and delightful ease.
  • Material that is “over the student’s head” and being sensitive to exactly where the student is today (skills, knowledge, and emotional/physical state).
  • Focused intellectual work and integrating body, heart, and mind.

Experience samples of my teaching (mp3s)

Tools I use:

Tutoring

The Trivium

  • Grammatical analysis to discover meaning
  • Logical analysis and logical fallacies to steer thinking towards truth
  • Rhetorical analysis to add beauty and grace to expression

Socratic Method

  • Leading Questions

Visualization

  • Time and Space Mapping
  • Concept Mapping
  • Mind Mapping
  • Drawing

Writing Exercises

  • Pastiche – using great writing as a model for our own
  • Note Taking – capturing ideas from conversation and reading
  • Journaling – to strengthen the heart, brain, and hand connection
  • Editorial – practice reading your own work with fresh eyes

Examples

In a 1:1 tutoring  or private class session we might:

  1. Review prior work, discuss successes and challenges
  2. Check in on skills practiced since last session
  3. Read some fresh material with support from me
  4. Use Trivium tools to deepen our understanding of the topic and sharpen those skills
  5. Discuss the material using the Socartic Method
  6. Seek to vizualize part of the piece to make it more real and to impress it in our minds
  7. Begin writing a short piece about what we’ve read and discussed
  8. Prepare to work at home on continuing the reading and writing assignment

In a public class or camp we might, on day 1:

  1. Introduce ourselves and loosen up a bit with a short anecdote
  2. Walk for a few minutes to get our blood pumping to a grassy spot
  3. Dive right into taking turns reading aloud to the group (those who feel comfortable)
  4. I open our Socratic discussion with a leading question
  5. Our discussion begins
  6. We continue our discussion as we walk to a spot a few hundred meters away
  7. We read a bit more aloud
  8. We take time to visualize the scene we’ve just read about
  9. We spend 15-30 minutes drawing what we visualized
  10. We read a bit more and start our discussion anew
  11. We walk on as we share insights and invite those who have yet to share to do so
  12. Etc, etc. until our 3 hours have flown by and we return to the pick up area bodies fully alive and minds abuzz

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Experience samples of my teaching

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