On the Student Tablet PC Blog in Trevor's excellent MindMapping overview, he mentions that the last time most people probably saw mindmapping was in the 3rdor 4th grade when it was called a web or brainstorm used to sketch out ideas for a school related task/project. That’s exactly how it happened for me too, except my time of exposure was a bit different! A teacher I had in 7th grade, who in retrospect was very innovative, taught my class to put a topic at the center of the page and draw subtopics off of the central one as a “brainstorming” technique. And then, I didn't heard about mindmapping again in school... ever. As Trevor said, from there we were on to high school and forced to outline and complete essays. Luckily I never stopped mapping, but it's too bad there wasn't carry-over in the public schools.
It leads me to think Middle School was actually the most enriching portion of public education for many of us. The creativity of using crayons and markers that are used to illustrate concepts (largely right-brain skills) in grade school are still largely present in middle-school. As an added bonus, many of the (left-brain) skills that define high-school such as list-making, paper writing, memorization and test-taking also present themselves in middle school. After all, isn't that great when you have equilibrium between the left- and right-hemispheres of the brain in the academic realm? The public schools really ought to receive more credit for this balancing act they pull off at the crucial mid-point of a child's education.
As a thought for the future, I would love to see this balancing act carry-over more into the high-school realm. Why not bring mapping into the equation so visual thinkers have a persistent resource for their creativity and intuition, and linear thinkers have a tool that taps into their visual side?