Read the passage below and answer the questions that follow.






Tony Buzan was not doing well in school. He took down pages and pages of notes, but found that the more notes he took, the worse his memory got. As exams drew nearer, he began to concentrate more and more on the keywords in his notes. Realizing that just ten percent of his notes consisted of keywords, Buzan focused on this small segment. He then proceeded to make connections and use images in his notes - a technique that, unknown to him at the time, was one that had long been used by the great thinkers and philosophers of the past. The technique proved successful!


Buzan then began researching the ancient Greek philosophers. He discovered that they had always used images, pictures, colours and connections to express their thoughts. To his amazement and delight, he found that it was the same case with- many geniuses. Having examined the notebooks kept by such great thinkers as Da Vinci, Edison and Darwin, Buzan now believes that our brains work best when using images. This is why mind-maps are now used by over a billion people around the world. The human language is not just a spoken or a written language - it is the combination of images and associations, which is what a mind-map actually is.


Over 30 years and 81 books later, Buzan's idea has now been refined into a unique concept he calls mental literacy. Buzan defines mental literacy as knowing how the brain functions and how it deals with everything from short and long-term memory to handling failure. "There's a lot of talk at the moment about the shortage of food in the world - physical starvation. I believe that mental starvation is a much more serious issue. If people are starving mentally, they will starve physically too. We need to feed the world with the knowledge of how to learn and think and solve the problems that we have. We can do it. It's just a matter of having the mental tools with which to do it."


To this end, Buzan has travelled around the world, encouraging mental literacy as far afield as Japan and Canada. His goal is to provide guidelines for the human brain to maximize its capacity to rationalize problems and find appropriate solutions.


Buzan found that in China, there is tremendous praise for and happiness in learning. He feels that this is not because the Chinese brain is different. It is because the child or the student goes into the learning situation loving the whole process of learning. According to Buzan, two of the key principles in learning are you must enjoy and respect the process and you must go into it with enthusiasm and with the support of family and culture. Then you will learn better.


In the past, it was believed that creativity was controlled by the right side of the brain, while business and academic functions were governed by the brain's left hemisphere. Buzan strongly feels that this is a mistaken belief. He thinks it is important for everyone to recognize the brain's true ability and potential, and to understand that the two sides of the brain work in tandem or together to facilitate thinking and learning.


Buzan illustrates the connection between the right and left brain by pointing out that all artists and musicians are generally incredibly organized. This made all the greatest musicians in history excellent mathematicians. Beethoven, one of the world's greatest musicians, was extremely organized. Thus, despite being deaf, he could compose music with the aid of mathematical principles. Interestingly, the concept applies to the business world as well. "All businesses, if they're going to succeed, must be right-minded and left-minded. You must have imagination and creativity as well as product development, accounting, planning and analysis. That is why good businesses are often tremendously childlike," Buzan declares. "All great businesses do not just start as business plans. They start as daydreams."



Adapted from Star Bizweek, October 8, 2005