Symbolic Images

Symbolic Images of Breakthrough Learning

Symbolic Image 1 – the Empty Head

A simple drawing of a face with three arrows going in (Input) and three arrows going out (Output)

Information In – Information Out – Leaving an Empty Head

This image is extremely important.  It shows information going into the head (input) on the left and information passing out of the head (output) on the right. These are the six Basic Learning Skills. They are often thought of as Study Skills but STUDY is what should  take place between the input and output of information.This simple image illustrates one of the main reasons why students don’t learn.

When we don’t process the information in our brain (mental processing) no lasting memories are formed

A helpful analogy:

Learning is often compared to eating. First we put food (hopefully healthy food) into our mouth.  It is important that we chew our food well and let our body digest the food, carrying nutrients to all parts of our body. Finally the wastes (indigestible material in our food plus other wastes from our body) leave the body.

If we take information into our mind and quickly “regurgitate” the information on a test, it should be no surprise that very little or no memory remains. Study can be compared to the process of chewing and digesting the information. Instead of going to all parts of our body, study sends the well-digested information to all parts of our brain. Many students don’t realize that reading isn’t enough, that they must also spend time studying the material.

Image 2:   The Head is now  filled with Study Skills

Now the head shows three areas of Study Skills: Organize Information, Think, and RememberStudy skills have now been included in the brain.

Study includes three main processes:

a. Organizing  Main Ideas
b. Thinking about the ideas
c.  Strategies for Remembering the ideas

But these Study Skills are not  enough by themselves. It is important to look at the complete image.

Image 3: The Student as a Symbolic Image

Here  you see the Symbolic Image with  the head now attached to the body. We can think of it as a student..

You should see the four main sections of this website.  This symbolic image is a student representing the main sections of the website.

1.     The base or foundation that our student stands on is the list of  seven  habits of a successful student.  As you probably know, this really includes  7 + 1 habits.

The two hands represent the Basic Learning Skills.

2.    The hand on the left shows the Input and Output skills.  Students needs to continually strengthen these basic skills as they  move from elementary school, to middle school, to high school, to college and beyond.

3.     The hand on the right stands for applying these skills to different subjects. You use different strategies for studying math, literature, art, etc.

4.     At the top, we see the head representing the three study skills: Organize Main Ideas, Think, and Remember. These will include twenty practical strategies.  Students can select the strategies that work best for them.

The first three images on this page could be called Symbolic Images or Symbolic Concept Maps.  Below, you will find a more typical concept map showing the same information. You might also use an outline to show this information. As you’ll learn here, we can use different ways to organize information.

Compare this to the image of the student. They include the same basic information. Which is easier for you to understand?

The next page includes a simple Concept Map showing the same information along with links to all major pages on the website:

Links to the Breakthrough Learning Website


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