Caroline Leaf (learning specialist)

Dr. Caroline Leaf is a brain and learning specialist from South Africa. She has worked extensively with children and adults alike for 20 years, dealing mainly with learning techniques to aid the education system in South Africa. Through her doctoral studies she developed a learning aid, namely the Meta-cognitive Mapping Approach (trademark). This study tool reflects the brain's pattern of learning, as a brain-based system to stimulate the brain's meta-cognative level.

Caroline Leaf speaks about stress and health management in her DVD series []. In this DVD series Caroline Leaf introduces herself as a doctor and uses the title "Dr" in her DVD, her book and her website[]. She is not a medically trained professional butdoes have a PhD in communication Pathology with a specialization in neuro-matacognative learning. (See Life and career).

Caroline Leaf speaks of the "Magic Trees of the Mind", an idea put forth by Marian Diamond and Janet Hopson in their book of the same name. While some people have become offended by the seeming simplistic nature of such a phrase but it is effective in helping the visualization of an actual neural structure. Dr Leaf's books are full of medical references for those interested in pursuing further knowledge. For instance, her book "Who Switched Off my Brain?: Controlling toxic thoughts and emotions" cites 40 reference books and other works by respected individuals in this field.

Exerpts of South African news articles

"Students who doen't know how to learn become bored at school. The Meta-cognitive Mapping Approach requires simultaneously using the processes of analysis and synthesis at both higher and lower order learning levels." []

Life and career

Caroline Leaf was born in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1963 grew up in Pretoria. She was educated at Glen High and completed her B.Sc. (Logopaedics) with honours in 1984 at UCT.

She initially worked as a speech therapist and education advisor for the now defunct TED in Johannesburg and further worked for the New Hope School (for learning disabled and cerebral palsied children) in Pretoria.

She started a private practice in Pretoria during January 1987, which later transferred to Johannesburg and is still currently running. She completed her masters degree in one year in May 1990 with distinction and academic honours. She then decided in early 1996 to devote herself full time to the completion of her Ph.D., which she had started in 1995. She completed her Ph.D. with distinction, over 2½ years, in March 1997. Caroline is a qualified and accredited ETDP Assessor and Moderator.

Amongst the milestones in her career were:

  • the development of a learning system (the MMA) using findings from her Master’s and PHD degree, original research and proven methods from various sources.
  • the development of an assessment tool used in her private practice.
  • the development of the Metacognitive-Map, a scientifically advanced learning tool based on her PHD theory, “The Geodesic Information Processing Theory.
  • the development of an advanced learning system for teachers and learners.
  • the development of a corporate application
  • the development of the GIP profile – a Gifted profile analysis tool

The MMA course has been presented to more than 80,000 pupils and adults (educators and corporate) originally under the name of Mind Dynamics and currently runs under the name of The Switch on your Brain Organisation (PTY)ltd.

The Switch on your Brain courses are accredited and verified under the ETDP SETA.

Published works

  • “Teaching children to make the most of their minds: mind-mapping”, in Journal for Technical and Vocational Education in South Africa, 121, pp 11–13, 1989.
  • “Mind-mapping as a Therapeutic technique” in Communiphon, South African Speech-Language-hearing Association No. 296, pg. 11-15, November 1990.
  • “The Mind-mapping approach (MMA): Open the door to your Brainpower; Learn how to learn”, in Transvaal Association of Teachers Journal (TAT), December 1992.
  • “The Mind-mapping approach (MMA): A culture and language “free” technique”, in the South African Journal of Communication Disorders, Vol. 40, 1993.
  • “Mind-Mapping: A Therapeutic Technique for Closed-Head Injury”, a dissertation submitted for her Masters at the University of Pretoria, May 1990.
  • “The Mind-Mapping Approach: A Model and Framework for Geodesic Learning”, a dissertation submitted for her Ph.D. at the University of Pretoria, March 1997.
  • “The Development of a Model for Geodesic Learning: The Geodesic Information Processing Model”, in the South African Journal of Communication Disorders, Vol. 44, 1997.
  • “An Alternative Non-traditional Approach to Learning – The Metacognitive Mapping Approach”, due for publication in the South African Journal of Communication Disorders, Vol. 45, 1998.
  • “The move from Institution Based Rehabilitation (IBR) to Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR): A paradigm shift. Therapy Africa Vol.1 No.1 August 1997, pp 4.
  • “An altered perception of learning: geodesic learning”. Therapy Africa Vol. 1 No.2 October 1997, pp. 7
  • “An altered perception of learning: geodesic learning: part 2. Therapy Africa Vol.2 No.1 January/ February 1998, pp4.
  • “Switch on your Brain”. 2005. Tafelberg, CT.
  • “Who switched off my brain: the gift within”. Coauthored with Ray McCauley. 2006. Rhema publishers, JHB

Unpublished works

  • “Evaluation and remediation of high school children’s problems using the mind-mapping therapeutic approach”, unpublished seminar in Remedial Teaching, Unisa, 7/8 September 1992.
  • “Mind Mapping as a therapeutic intervention technique”, unpublished workshop manual.


She has been associated with 28% of private and Government schools such as Dainfern College, Aurora College, Brescia House, Rodean, St Stithians,She has been nominated for the South African Businesswoman of the Year award for 2008.

External links

DR. Caroline's official site:


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