Metacognition, emotions and learning
The term metacognition [I9] [F9] [ES9] is defined by Gail Ellis of the British Council Paris in a language learning context, as an articulated umbrella term incorporating linguistic, cognitive, social and cultural aspects. Metacognition is still very little cultivated by teachers. A set of relevant questions to stimulate the students’ metacognitive self-interrogation is suggested by Ellis further on in the linked article (questions about their own way of memorizing, understanding, applying knowledge, ideal learning conditions, most helpful exercises, reasons for class procedures etc.). Once awareness has been developed the second metacognitive step can take place: monitoring and self regulating one’s strategies towards success. Mind maps can help students answer some of those questions, as a means of both setting and solving the metacognitive "problem". Mind maps make inner processes visible and encourage paradigm shifting (the ability to transfer successful strategies to different contexts.
A mind map showing the components of the learning power, from www.george-spencer.notts.sch.uk).
Another generally underestimated factor that affects learning is the role played by emotions. According to Eric Jensen's Teaching With the Brain in Mind researchers did not focus on the way emotions affect the learning process until the mid-1980s, so it took them quite long to realise that "emotions drive attention, create meaning, and have their own memory pathways". Emotions are now no longer opposed to reason, but rather considered as an aid to it in "focusing the mind and setting priorities". Mind maps tap into these privileged sources of motivation [I10] [F10]
[ES10] because they allow creativity to step in and express itself, they revolve around the evocative power of colours, personal selection and representation of items, associations that stem from personal resonances. Colours create visible contrasts, and whenever we need to obtain the brain’s attention we need to create contrast.