If you’ve signed up for an E-Symposium or Open Courseware, you may have noticed that the Guiding Questions activity is designed to stimulate the production of free association and thoughts / ideas that flow from free association. It works by triggering thoughts and associations – not just from the thoughts that you have, but also by looking at the way that the words fall on the page. As you well know, thoughts can be triggered by all kinds of stimuli – images (maps, cross-sections, diagrams), by hearing, by seeing a sign / image, by reading words, and by tracing the development of concepts as they unfold in different orders.
Are you familiar with Mind Mapping? Guiding Questions have a lot in common with Mind Mapping in the sense that you’re deliberately organizing your thoughts and displaying them in a way that leads to the ordering / organizing of thoughts and ideas. You’re also juxtaposing old information and new, and making connections between the new concepts and your experience and prior knowledge.
Developing a strategy for letting your thoughts flow is good for many things – not just learning about a new area where you need the knowledge or the skill. Mind-mapping / brainstorming are great ways to find out something about your own thoughts, values, and needs. The technique is also a great way to come up with new solutions to old, seemingly intractable problems.