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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

From the Wabash, Now Worldwide

From the Wabash, Now Worldwide

By Dr. Ryan Donlan
Department of Educational Leadership
Bayh College of Education
Indiana State University

In 1969, a graduate student in psychology by the name of Taibi Kahler was doing an internship at the Wabash Valley Mental Hospital near West Lafayette, Indiana. While there, he became interested in the psychological theories of Transactional Analysis (Kahler, 2008).

Shortly thereafter, Kahler created an inventory to collect data for his dissertation on predicting academic underachievement.  While performing factor analysis to study his instrument’s validity, he noticed data falling into 6 mutually exclusive clusters that later served as the basis for a theory on personality structure (Kahler Communications, Inc., n.d.; Kahler, 2008). 

The uniqueness of Dr. Kahler’s discovery was that human behavior could be identified, second-by-second, as being productive (communication) or non-productive (miscommunication) with both patterns sequential, measurable, and predictable.
For this discovery, Dr. Kahler was later awarded the 1977 Eric Berne Memorial Scientific Award and was honored by more than 10,000 of his clinical peers from 52 countries as having provided the MOST SIGNIFICANT SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY IN THE FIELD OF PSYCHOLOGY (Kahler, 2008). 
Fast-forward a few decades. 
Dr. Kahler’s discoveries in the field of communication have assisted NASA in the selection of astronauts and enhanced the business of global corporations. His discoveries have assisted practitioners in the fields of therapy, health care, and education.  Because of the power and relevance of his theories, Dr. Kahler served as communication advisor to President William Jefferson Clinton and provided psycho-demographic polling information for his campaigns.
Last week, Dr. Kahler sat in a conference room in Vienna, Austria, watching me closely as I demonstrated the practical aspects of his Process Education Model (PEM) to a group of teachers from Europe. 
In this demo, six certified trainers in the model took on the roles of students, demonstrating what Dr. Kahler refers to as “distressed behavior” while I attempted to teach.  My job was to shift my communication style (the “Process” of Communication) by using selected words, tones, gestures, postures, and facial expressions in the students’ perceptual frames to meet their psychological needs, engage their minds, and of course … teach academic content.  It is all quite sophisticated, yet can be deftly delivered with deep practice in its leadership and classroom applications. 
I used this model while in K-12 and still do so today.
Later in the conference, I co-presented results from a recent study on Kahler’s Personality Pattern Inventory, in which we performed a current factor analysis on data from over 53,000 persons, evaluating its validity (Ampaw, Gilbert, & Donlan, 2012).  As I discussed our findings and shared insights with experts from France, Germany, and New Zealand, I thought of Dr. Kahler sitting nearby, and his ideas born in Indiana. 
From the Wabash … Now Worldwide.
Known throughout the world for his contributions … having changed the lives of millions through his books and seminars … a member of 4 international high-IQ societies … and delightfully humble in spite of all this – Dr. Kahler, ironically, is not on most American educators’ “Who’s Who” lists of those we quote or those whose conferences we attend.
Yet, the Process Education Model is most certainly one to study.
Dr. Kahler encourages further research.
As you’re working this school year to write grants for professional development, will you please ask yourself? …
Would staff benefit from a most subtle, yet sophisticated method of differentiated communication that could minimize distress in classrooms for both students and themselves? 
Would leaders find useful a model that allows for deep understanding of students, parents, and stakeholders within seconds of meeting them for the first time? 
Would practitioners find beneficial a model that may enhance and extend the efficacy of any current school improvement initiative in which they are currently involved? 
If so, please consider partnering. 
You learn and implement; we’ll measure.

Ampaw, F. D., Gilbert, M. B., & Donlan, R. A. (2012, August). Verifying the validity and
            reliability of the Personality Pattern Inventory. Paper presented at the 4th
            International Congress on Process Communication, Vienna, Austria.

Kahler Communications, Inc. (n. d.). Personality Pattern Inventory validation procedures. Little Rock, AR: Author.

Kahler, T. (2008). The process therapy model. Little Rock, AR: Taibi Kahler Associates. 

Dr. Ryan Donlan is involved in research and training in the Process Education Model (PEM) and wishes to partner with K-12, college, and university educators who are writing grants to fund research on professional development and learning outcomes in their schools.

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