Holistic Learners


Holistic learners like to take their time learning, making mental comparisons when they read new things. They like to compare new concepts to concepts they already know, using mental pictures, similes or analogies.
Once you decide you are a holistic learner, you can use your strengths to improve your study skills. By zeroing in on your strengths, you can get more out of study time.

Are You a Holistic Learner?

A holistic (big picture) person likes to start with a big idea or concept, then go on to study and understand the parts.
You may be more likely to respond to a problem with emotion first, instead of logic. You can accept an algebra equation without understanding how it works. You may be late for school a lot. You tend to remember faces, but forget names. You may act on impulse. You might play music while you study.
You might not raise your hand much to answer questions, because it takes you a while to sort out your answer. You are likely to read and read and become frustrated, and then suddenly “get it.”
You may also tend to glaze over material to pursue the big idea. That can be costly. Often, those small details show up on tests! Holistic or global learners can spend so much time thinking they react too late.

A holistic learner may benefit from the following.

Pay attention to outlines. If your teacher offers an outline at the beginning of a new term, always copy it down.
Make your own outline. This is a good way to remember important details you’d otherwise miss.
Don’t skip an introduction or summary. You will benefit from reading these before you read the actual book.
Look for boundaries. Holistic learners may have trouble discerning where one concept or event ends and another begins. It might be helpful for you to establish concrete beginning and ending points.
Ask for examples. Your brain likes to make comparisons, so the more examples, the better.
Use images. Use pictures and charts if they are offered. When reading a long passage or explanation, make your own charts and pictures.
Draw timelines. This is another way of creating boundaries. Your brain likes them.
Look at sample assignments. Your brain likes to use examples as a frame of reference. Without them, it’s sometimes hard for you to know where to start.
Make drawings of concepts. The more you can sketch out and characterize concepts, the better. Using political parties as an example, you could draw circles and label them. Then, fill in sub-circles of beliefs and established ideologies. The “Democratic Party” circle could contain traits like “supports social programs” and “civil rights.”
Make summaries as you progress.
Use a time-keeper tool. You may also find that you can get carried away thinking of possibilities and lose track of time.
Avoid thinking of all the possibilities. It may help to make comparisons and find relationships. Don’t get distracted from the task at hand.

If you know that you’re a holistic learner, then all of these things can help you process information much quicker, and more easily, making the most out of your studying time. A lot of these examples have been used as inspiration for my Holistic Desk, many of them can be used through the use of the desk, such as sketching examples, timelines and mind maps and keeping the information on the bigger picture laid out in an organised manner at all times. I would hope that this would help students be able to deal with their studies in a more productive and enjoyable manner.

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