Why Have I Never Come Across This Learning Method Before?


Friday, 9.42pm

Sheffield, U.K.

Learning never exhausts the mind. – Leonardo da Vinci

I came across a YouTube channel on brain-friendly thinking and it has a number of techniques that I’ve never seen before.

Martin, the creator of these videos, uses techniques created by Vera F. Birkenbihl, who used to be one of Germany’s leading management consultants.

She devised a set of thinking tools that are known as analogous graffiti. There are three of them: ABC lists, KaWa and KaGa. This is how you use the first two.

When you’re reading a book or listening to a talk you might make notes as you go along – either linear notes or sketchnotes. If you use the ABC list method what you do instead is write out the letters of the alphabet vertically on a piece of paper and then write out the words that seem important as you read the book.

For example, I had a look at How to create a good advertisement by Victor O. Schwab. I haven’t had time to read the whole book but I looked through the table of contents and the first few chapters and created the ABC list shown in the image below.


Then I went back over the list and underlined the really important words in red. The ones that seemed to pick out the essence of the message in the book – what makes a good advertisement.

The second technique, KaWa stands for connotations of words. What this means is that instead of having all the characters of the alphabet you pick a word, like “advertisement” and then write out the words from your ABC list using the word you’ve chosen as an anchor. You can see this in the image that starts this post, where I’ve tried to connect words in the list to the letters of the word “advertisement”. You don’t always have enough letters so you have to be creative, like I’ve been with “headline” and “guarantee”.

The last technique, KaGa is for graphic associations. This is where you add drawings to help you visualise the words and ideas you’ve put down on the page, which I’ve done in black on the image that starts this post.

Why would you do all this?

One reason is that by going over the material in this way you’ve picked out the important words that the author felt they had to include. And these words, when seen again, help you recollect the points that were being made. It’s easy, for example, to see that your advert has to ATTRACT attention by using a good HEADLINE and by showing what ADVANTAGES the reader will get. It must cause them to take ACTION. Your enemy is DELAY. Be SPECIFIC, use FACTS. Be clear about the REWARDS the reader will get and GUARANTEE your product – remove risk. Make sure you TEST and are in line with TRENDS – selling ice to Eskimos and all that. And above all, be NATURAL.

Now that’s quite a good summary of what I might take away from the book if I read all of it carefully. And if I look at this picture a year from now I’ll probably remember those concepts pretty easily – perhaps more clearly than a linear note. I think it might even be more useful than a sketchnote which takes down lots of material visually but is not necessary organised for retention and learning.

I think I’ll be using these methods more in the future.


Karthik Suresh

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