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Studying with creativity

  1. Apr 6, 2013 #1
    I recently read a book it was called "The Buzan Study Skills Handbook" by Tony Buzan.

    Basically the author argues throughout his book for people to use their creativity when they study: e.g - using colours, associating concepts with images, using stylistic writing, key words and lastly making your work of "art" have some beauty... He ultimately asserts that we should all use his ingenious invention - "the mind map" - in order to bring out this creativity.

    The book has had many positive citations from people who have followed Buzan's ideas.

    I personally believe he's got a fair point.

    How about you guys? Do you guys bring out your inner Picasso when you study?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 7, 2013 #2
    No. I find it may help on humanities courses, but not on Physics/Math. How is stylish writing gonna help you solve an exercise?

    Honestly, I think he's selling his "Mind Map". I read a book by him, as well, and I think those are intended for older people, people who do not exercise the brain as much as math/physics majors.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2013
  4. Apr 7, 2013 #3
    I think he intended the stylish writing for helping you to memorise stuff...

    but yea in the end nothing beats a text book full of problems and worked out solutions!
  5. Apr 7, 2013 #4
    For memorization, it probably works. We don't do alot of that tho.
  6. Apr 7, 2013 #5
    Humanities brah ~

    memorisation all day ery day
  7. Apr 7, 2013 #6
    I think the mind map is useful for science students, I certainly found it so. It's nothing to do with sylistic writing, in fact it's minimal writing, basically drawing out hierarchical maps so you can see structure:

    atom - nucleus - proton
    - neutron

    Alan Badelley in his books has a lot to say about the advantages of creating hierarchies in helping memory... he doesn't call them mind maps, though, Buzan has tradmarked the term (!)

    Mind maps are more free form than strict hierarchy charts and thereby, perhaps, lend themselves more to making links in a creative manner.

    So I think it's worth applying some of Buzan's techniques, supplement him with other, more academic authors, ,though, like Baddeley.

    P.S. I'm surprised that someone says you don't have to memorise stuff in physics - how would you get on if you couldn't remember that protons are found in an atomic nucleus?
  8. Apr 7, 2013 #7
    Well, one obviously needs to memorize some stuff. One needs to know what a phi looks like, or what a cross product is, etc etc. However, I don't think one needs to apply memorization techniques in order to memorize that kind of stuff.
  9. Apr 7, 2013 #8


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    I think it's important to note that not one study style is a catch all for everyone. Nevertheless, my note taking has often been called rather artistic (as artistic as notes can get.) I do draw a lot of webs, diagrams, various other techniques to help me connect ideas. Looking at words on page and rewriting them in my own words helps me very little. I have to actually have a visual connection to clearly get something. I color code my notes, make references to pervious notes in different binders, etc... I'm also freakishly organized.
  10. Apr 7, 2013 #9
    I really like techniques like this. A mindmap is a really handy tool in studying. It makes you see the many connections that a subject might have to other subjects. I've seen quite a lot of people in science following these techniques, and they really work. If you're having trouble with studying, then doing things like this is recommendable, but of course, it shouldn't be your only way of studying.
  11. Apr 7, 2013 #10


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    What micromass said, plus I find the main benefit is the process of drawing the map, not admiring the finished piece of art. I've probably drawn hundreds of these over the years, but most get thrown away after a day or two when they have served their purpose.

    This is not only useful for "studying". If you are faced with a real-world problem with a huge amount of "facts" (an unknown proportion of which may be wrong or irrelevant!) it's one way to help get the "big picture" into your head.

    Buzan's books etc can be irritating and repetitious - but that doesn't mean the basic ideas are useless. He's making money from a selling commercial product, not writing academic research papers.
  12. Apr 7, 2013 #11
    People say a lot that memorization isn't needed in science. I think that's very false. Of course, we don't need to memorize 100s of pages like premed students. But still.

    When I studied topology, we saw tons of properties that a topological space could have. Furthermore, there were many interrelations between those properties. And there were tons of counterexamples too. You really have to memorize these these things. You might understand perfectly what a locally compact space is, but that doesn't always help you. When doing a problem on an exam, you just have to know that open subspaces inherit local compactness. You might rederive it and prove it again, but you waste so much time doing that. Certainly if the derivation is nontrivial!

    Of course, I know all the properties at the back of my head now. But I really remember struggling through those things when I was studying. Mindmaps, colors and other stuff really did help me a lot!
  13. Apr 7, 2013 #12

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    Yes, and oddly the very same people wouldn't say "remembering isn't needed in science".
  14. Apr 7, 2013 #13
    From my experience in lower level undergrad physics, knowing what type of memorization is needed is a hard skill to master.

    You either memorize the derivation, memorize the formula, or memorize it by definition.

    Memorizing by definition works great for simple concepts such as angular speed.

    Knowing whether to memorize the derivation of the formula or just to memorize the formula of a harder concept is more difficult.

    The benefit of memorizing the derivation is that you are able to solve problems that have been modified (from your average homework question) quite easily. The disadvantage is that derivation is sometimes harder and takes longer.

    For example: I hate the way that kinematics is taught in high school or university. They essentially give you 5 equations and tell you to plug and chug. In my opinion, that makes kinematics harder than it really is. You only need to know one equation to solve any kinematics problem: ##a=\frac { dv }{ dt }##. If you're interested, give me a kinematics problem.
  15. Apr 7, 2013 #14
    I throw a ball straight up with an initial velocity of 10 m/s. How long does it take before it hits the ground if the atmosphere is composed completely of argon with a density of 8 torr, and the moon is somehow in the atmosphere 50 meters above you, and lightning strikes the ball at its peak with 1 million volts and the ball lands in an argon tornado, and yeah I'm bored. I should probably be doing my HW, which seems about as confusing as this problem I just gave you.
  16. Apr 7, 2013 #15


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  17. Apr 7, 2013 #16
    A train starts at point A and drives 50km/h. A wall stands 100 km from the train. Together with the train, a fly starts at point A and flies 60km/h (pretty fast for a fly). Once the fly hits the wall, it turns back towards the train. If it hits the train, it turns back towards the wall, etc.
    Eventually, the train hits the wall and the fly is crushed. How much distance did the fly cover until it is crushed?
  18. Apr 7, 2013 #17


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    A ball is thrown at speed ##v## from zero height on level ground. Let ##θ_0## be the angle at which the ball should be thrown so that the length of the trajectory is maximum. Show that ##θ_0## satisfies ##\sin\theta_0\ln(\frac{1 + \sin\theta_{0}}{\cos\theta_{0}}) = 1##.
  19. Apr 7, 2013 #18
    A mind map full of colors could help you in the sciences, especially physics so this guy's idea is not far out there. When we are solving problems we basically are using a mind map in what we know to solve the problem.

    Will using the conservation of energy be best in solving this problem or some other conservation principle? If that doesn't work, you can draw red around what doesn't work and give blue colors to those you think are possible solutions to solving the problem. Finally, when you get to a valid enough solution you are comfortable with, put it in green.

    Also, style does matter when you are writing out your solutions as sloppy solutions are annoying. If you happen to grade students work and they have numbers there that you aren't sure is a number or symbol or equations derived that aren't properly written out or numbered, it can be quite annoying. So, style does matter to me and to most others that may read your work. If someone cannot follow your work logically, the work is pretty much useless.
  20. Apr 8, 2013 #19
    He should've changed:


    I thought it would be fairly obvious given that he said:

    i.e. he was referring to the ugly abomination in the attachments.

    Solving a simpler problem:

    $$a=\frac { dv }{ dt } \\ \int { adt } =\int { dv } \\ v(t)=at+{ v }_{ 0 }\quad (1)\\ \int { v(t) } dt=\int { at+{ v }_{ 0 } } dt\\ r(t)=\frac { a{ t }^{ 2 } }{ 2 } +{ v }_{ 0 }t+{ r }_{ 0 }\quad (2)\\ Calculating\quad the\quad time\quad the\quad fly\quad takes\quad to\quad travel\quad 100\quad km\quad at\quad 60km/h\quad using\quad (2)\\ r(t)=\frac { a{ t }^{ 2 } }{ 2 } +{ v }_{ 0 }t+{ r }_{ 0 }\\ 100=60t\\ t=\frac { 5 }{ 3 } hours$$

    You might say that high schoolers still don't know calculus. Well, that is no excuse for first-year university and they could've at least just put equations (1) and (2) on the formula sheet.

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    Last edited: Apr 8, 2013
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