• Ian Gibbs

Student Tip 17: Picture This

Updated: Oct 7


Remember those children’s story books you had read to you when you were little? You know, the ones with all the pictures. Have you ever thought why they had pictures in them?


It’s because we find pictures much easier to understand. We remember them better than words, too.


You might read about Romeo and Juliet, or The Battle of Hastings, or how to make hydrochloric acid, but if you could see a picture, you’d start to understand better.


After all, that’s why most textbooks have diagrams and photos, isn’t it?


But when it comes to learning, it’s even better if the picture was created by you.


You might not be the world’s best artist— it really doesn’t matter.


There are lots of different ways of making pictures.


Even little stick-people riding what look like giant potatoes with legs and smiley faces might be fine under the right circumstances.


If you’re writing an essay on the pros and cons of recycling, you could support it by creating a diagram to visualise the arguments for and arguments against.


You can draw them or copy and paste them. It doesn’t matter.


You don’t even have to include the diagram if you think your teacher won’t approve.


But regardless of whether your teacher sees it or not, come exam time you’ll find it much easier to remember the picture you made representing your studies and so find it easier to answer the questions.


So add more diagrams to support your work.


You could illustrate your French homework with example drawings of new vocabulary or comic-style people with French speech- bubbles.


Make them colourful.


Make them stand out.


Use humour.


Use your imagination.


The more creative your picture is, the easier it will be to remember.


In fact, why be satisfied with two dimensions, when you could make a 3D model?


Get hold of some coloured plasticine and make a model of your internal organs. Get your box of LEGO from out of the cupboard and build a model of the European Union.


What was the point of learning how to make stuff out of papier-mâché if you can’t use it for creating your own model of a courtroom or the periodic table?


Creating stuff you can visualise is a powerful technique to remember stuff.


While your classmates are struggling to come up with all the different sources of renewable energy, you’ll be able to close your eyes and visualise all of them because of the cartoon you drew with the funny captions and rude bits nobody else gets to see.


Tip 17: Learn better by anchoring ideas using images.

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