Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) To my utmost surprise, as I sat back in my seat after my 1-min intervention during one plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, I was approached by one of the ushers and given a hand-written note from the European Parliament President who was chairing that very session.
On this note, I was praised by the Vice-President for the mind map that always accompanies every single speech I give in the Parliament, be it a plenary speech, a committee meeting, or a seminar.
As the second biggest Parliament in the world, with over 700 elected representatives spanning from the 27 EU Member States, time constraints are part of our daily routine. Almost from the beginning of my mandate, I had to get accustomed to words like 1-min speech, 2-min speech, catch-the-eye, and so on and so forth.
As I brace myself to make my intervention in the Parliament, my kit – encompassing my colored pens and markers of several sizes and shapes – is never missing. The A3 sheet that comes with the mind-gap never goes unnoticed and often calls for an explanation of a sort. So here it goes. In such an inextricable environment, my mind map surely comes in handy. I have always found it extremely fascinating how the mind works and the flow of thoughts – with their many ramifications – articulate into composing a speech.
This helps me concentrate and be more efficient, and at the same time gives more space for listening and making connections on the spot, as they arise. Something we are not able to come up with when we write well in advance. It allows me to be mindful, here and now.
With scripted speeches and staged situations, I often find refuge in my mind map, which gives free rein to my imagination and creativity, otherwise left hung very loosely.
As Vice-Chair of the Intergroup on Children’s Rights in the European Parliament, I am a firm believer in the full potential of children and young people.
Children are fully fledged-citizens and should always be treated as such. The Intergroup sees children as a key constituency in the European Union, not only as mere leaders of tomorrow but rather as rights-holders here and now.
Mind maps epitomize this sheer sense of empowerment that should accompany the formative years of children: as a matter of fact, I do hold that mind maps could actually foster children’s creativity and give them the appropriate skills to thrive and reach their full potential.
It is of utmost importance to give children and young people the opportunity to explore and hone their skills, to travel with their minds. I see the map mind as an enabler, a facilitator of this whole process. I believe mind-maps should somehow be introduced into the national curricula of the Member States and taught as an option for pupils and students alike.
Here’s to hoping that more MEPs, more local politicians, more teachers, and more young people will resort to his kind of methodology. I hope to see other A3 sheets with beautifully drawn and colored ramifications within the European Parliament. I hope we will succeed in providing this space for our minds to travel up to speed within 1-min speech span time.