Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Whole to Part or Part to Whole

by Bob Keteyian

In my study of learning styles, I came across the whole to part and part to whole concept. As with all learning style paradigms, this has a strong connection to communication styles, and it particularly intrigued me because I could immediately identify with it.

I am a whole-to-part learner: I need to understand the overarching concept before getting the details. Moving in the opposite direction (receiving the details first), leaves me confused and feeling adrift. Those who are part-to-whole learners need to take in the parts that lead to the whole concept they are learning. Being presented with a whole concept first leaves them overwhelmed because the concept seems arbitrary.

I often want to know what a movie or book is all about before encountering it. I don’t mind hearing how it ends . . . in fact, I want to know the ending so I have an organizing concept and will often read the last part of a book first. The unfolding process is essential for those moving from part to whole and provides much enjoyment. Knowing the punch line from the start spoils the fun.

How does all of this relate to communication styles? Here’s an illustration: Julia is a very active, hands-on sixteen-year-old. She loves sports, doesn’t like to read, has a strong work ethic, is good with people, and is distractible. Because of the distractibility, her parents and teachers are always trying to get her attention, which they do by explaining things step by step. This seems logical—and it is—but it doesn’t work with Julia because she is a whole-to-part learner. She needs the punch line first and not work toward it.

Saying, for example, “Julia, this is probably the biggest event of the year for your mother, so we really need your help” gets her attention. Giving her a specific task to do (“Julia, we’d like you to tidy up the patio and then pick up some stuff in town.”) doesn’t. This approach is specific and incremental, which can help some who are easily distracted, but for a whole-to-part person like Julia, the requests seem random. Getting Julia’s attention by giving her the bottom line—the larger concept—first is more effective. She needs to know what this is all about before she can get connected to it.

The whole-to-part and part-to-whole axis is another tool for achieving effective communication that I’ve shared with many parents, couples, and business leaders who have found it useful. As always, though, it is best to understand how it works for you before applying it to others in your relational world.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Multi-Tasking During College Lectures

Should laptops and phones be put away in order to focus on the lectures?

Might college professors re-think how they deliver information in their classes?

Washington Post: Profs to Students: Ditch Those Laptops

The Chronicle: Divided Attention

Education Quarterly: Is Higher Education Evolving?

Attention, Multi-Tasking and What is a Classroom for?

Turning a College Lecture into a Conversation

Are College Students Multi-tasking, Disengaging or Maybe a Little of Both?

Distractions in the Classroom

School Funding in Maine

Below is a resolution being passed by a number of Maine SAUs. (Thanks to Melissa Prescott for bringing it to my attention).


WHEREAS, the voters of Maine approved a citizen-initiated referendum in 2004 calling on the state to fund “55 percent of the cost of public education;” and

WHEREAS, in 2005, the Legislature enacted LD 1, which put a process in place whereby the state would “ramp up” to a 55 percent state share by steadily increasing state funding for schools, K-12, over four years; and

WHEREAS, postponements of increased funding under the LD1 ramp-up were since enacted, and the Governor has ordered additional cutbacks in general purpose aid to education as part of the supplemental budget and through additional curtailments; and

WHEREAS, contrary to the intent of the voters of Maine, these actions have resulted in a 15 percent reduction in state funding of the costs of public education; and

WHEREAS, local school boards and administrators are being forced to make local budget cuts in the midst of the school year, and on an emergency basis, to make up for reduced state contributions to the costs of local education; and

WHEREAS, Maine Department of Education officials have not provided clear answers to local schools concerning future levels of state funding of local education, and have sometimes provided information that differs from day-to-day depending upon which local official is seeking the information or which state official is providing it; and

WHEREAS, local school boards are now in the midst of preparing local school budgets for the next fiscal year without secure knowledge concerning the level of state funding on which they can reasonably rely; and

WHEREAS, the state currently relies upon a system of funding for so-called “Essential Programs and Services” for education that is so out of touch with the reality of required educational expenditures that more than 60 percent of Maine communities this year are obligated to provide local funding exceeding what is deemed “essential” under the model; and

WHEREAS, the state cutbacks and curtailments are forcing increases in local funding for education through the property tax to meet the financial needs of Maine schools; and

WHEREAS, the actions of the Governor and Legislature have caused a massive shift of the burden of funding of education from the progressive income tax, levied based upon ability to pay, to the regressive property tax, which does not account for a property owner's ability to pay, particularly if they are on a fixed income; and

WHEREAS, the undersigned school boards adopting this resolution represent at least 20 percent of the students currently enrolled in Maine's public schools;


The Governor and Legislature must adopt a fair, equitable and transparent model for the funding of public education in Maine which:

1. Meets the voters' expressed desire to fund 55 percent of the cost of public education, K-12, in Maine;

2. Relies more upon revenues generated by the progressive income tax and less upon those raised through the local property tax;

3. More clearly addresses, at a realistic level, what is “essential” for educational expenditures in our communities; and

4. Provides both the public and local education officials with reliable information concerning the state's contribution to local educational expenditures, thus avoiding the disruption and devastation of mid-year cutbacks and curtailments.

See also MDI: Maine's Essential Progam & Services Funding Model