Type ‘Millennium Development Goals’ in Google and the journey starts. It is likely that most TH!NKers will have made this their starting point to find inspiration and background information for their blogs. With this being the 500th blog, we’re not doing bad at all.
But my web journey wasn’t what I expected. Swamped in bulky UN reports that use complex language page after page I quickly realised how little of the lengthy descriptions I struggled through actually stuck in my head. And that is worrying when you take into account that I spent three years working for the UN.
In the remainder of this blog I put three tests. Here’s the first one. Close your eyes, concentrate, and list in your mind the eight MDGs and what they focus on. Plus what the actual targets are. Seriously, take 2 minutes to do this simple task.
Eyes open. How many did you get? All? That’s great, but did you also remember the actual targets for each of them? Probably not. And there’s a good reason why this is so. It’s because humans aren’t good at remembering lists and bullet points.
That’s why many of us had a hard time in school (I certainly did). Lists and number crunching, logic and maths, these
tasks are processed in our left brain. Sensations, feelings, emotions, and the ‘big picture’ belong to the other half.
Take test number two (click here) to find out if you are a left or a right brain person. The right brainers probably remembered a few MDGs, the left brainers will have been good at coughing up the whole list.
So whilst we struggle with the fact that most people in society actually know very little about the MDGs, what can be done to make them ‘stick’ better? Helena brought up this topic, and it is not for nothing that a song for the MDGs was released today. Music is right-brain stuff. It sticks better.
An example. It is very unlikely that you remember what was done with the money that was raised with Bob Geldof’s Band Aid in 1984. But I feel confident that you remember most of the lyrics of ‘We are the world’. And yes, when you close your eyes you can easily visualise Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Michael Jackson and Cindy Lauper in that studio recording the song, even though this all happened 26 years ago. The reason is simple: it’s right-brain stuff.
So, if we want more of the MDGs to ‘stick’, than employing right-brain tactics may not be a bad idea. And I will start with MDG6.
For test number three, please take a pen and a sheet of paper. Look closely at the following video. Play it twice or thrice if you like it, and then draw it yourself with a single stroke of the pen and without lifting it off the paper.
Beautiful, isn’t it? And it is fun too. It was developed by Dutch artist Gerard de Bruijne as a means to raise awareness about malaria.
My 7-year old son mastered it in 10 minutes. Whenever he sees a blackboard somewhere he draws this little mosquito on it. Immediately, other kids also want to learn it. And whilst they do so, my little professor tells them that these are dangerous because ‘in Africa they inject little animals in you that make you sick and you can die of it’. All of these kids walk away knowing that malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes. Through right-brain stuff.
Gerard sent me the drawing below, made by 6-year old Louisa van Meerten, from Haarlem, The Netherlands.
I have not the least doubt that if you mastered drawing this one-line mosquito on the sheet of paper in front of you that from now onwards you will link it to malaria and MDG6.
Spray it, draw it, paint it, write it with a finger in the sand, draw it in the dust on the back of a car. There are thousands of ways in which this little mosquito can be depicted, simply to raise awareness about malaria…
Powerful and simple, our right brain should be called upon more.
If, and I repeat ‘if’ I make it to the MDG summit, I will do all I can to make Secretary General Ban Ki-moon draw the little mosquito. Get that on camera and the world will know all about MDG6…