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Paperback A Mind at a Time: America's Top Learning Expert Shows How Every Child Can Succeed Book

ISBN: 0743202236

ISBN13: 9780743202237

A Mind at a Time: America's Top Learning Expert Shows How Every Child Can Succeed

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Book Overview

"Different minds learn differently," writes Dr. Mel Levine, one of the best-known learning experts and pediatricians in America today. Some students are strong in certain areas and some are strong in others, but no one is equally capable in all. Yet most schools still cling to a one-size-fits-all education philosophy. As a result, many children struggle because their learning patterns don't fit the way they are being taught. In his #1 New York Times...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Brilliantly Simple

Dr. Levine teaches that it is more helpful to understand HOW a child behaves and not WHY a child behaves in the way he does. What a brililantly simple idea - a paradigm shift. If you think in this way, then you can go to work immediately on finding the solutions that fit your child. After reading "A Mind at a Time", I saw my son's behavior in terms of HOW and was able to start to address it. (For years my wife and I had been discouraged and tried absolutely everything with little effect.) Recently I came upon "Behavior Coaching" by Dr. Scott Hall who seems to be of the same school of thought with Dr. Levine. "Behavior Coaching" takes the theory of "A Mind at a Time" and directly employs it in a step-by-step action plan for improving your child's behavior. Great companions, "A Mind at a Time" and "Behavior Coaching", get them both to help you hone your parenting skills.

Significant, enlightening, and a good read too

Other reviewers have discussed the pros and cons of Dr. Levine's theories in depth, so I won't go into those; in the field of cognitive psychology, I'm an interested (and, I think, fairly well-read) amateur rather than a professional. That said, I feel that this is an important book for both parents and educators. The child's "job" of learning how to function in the world, and mastering the many tasks set for him/her by the educational system, isn't an easy one. The human mind is complex and multifaceted, but our schools tend to think of "intelligence" as a narrowly defined set of skills, and anyone who doesn't do well in those must be either stupid or lazy. (Levine notes that the moral implications of such judgments, e.g., that a student "doesn't try hard enough" or is "unmotivated," can be devastating to a child, and are often grossly unfair.) The irony is that -- as Levine points out -- the abilities that enable a child to succeed in school aren't necessarily those that conduce to success in later life; so, by rewarding performance only in certain areas, we doom many children to a low opinion of their abilities and ignore a wide spectrum of human potential.Although the subject isn't exactly lightweight, I found the book appealing and highly readable. Dr. Levine clearly has great respect and affection for his young subjects, so his anecdotes are engaging and (often) amusing. I was especially tickled when he urged a young client not to let his teachers "catch him doing something right" because from then on they'd hold it against him. In school, I was a "divergent thinker" to the max: if a subject interested me, I'd do a brilliant job, but if not I'd blow it off. So my occasional successes turned into threats: "See how well you can do if you just TRY hard enough." Trying hard had nothing to do with it! (When I got into college and graduate school, where I could study the subjects that interested me, my GPA soared.)Although Levine's work is often compared with Howard Gardner's, in fact they're complementary. Levine deals with cognitive skills (such as learning to filter stimuli), while Gardner deals with innate abilities or faculties in various subject areas (such as affinity for music). A child's learning difficulties could result from either one -- for example, problems with math might mean that the child can't focus on details, or has little math ability -- or they could be caused by something totally unrelated to intelligence, such as eye problems. As Levine memorably points out, every child's mind is different, and "one size fits all" solutions rarely address the real problem.

Help for All Learners

Dr. Mel Levine, Founder of All Kinds of Minds Institute and Director of the University of North Carolina's Clinical Center for Development and Learning, describes himself as "a pediatrician with a mission." He is "obsessed with helping children find success." Indeed, after three decades of working in schools and with children, Levine is receiving national attention. Not only is _A Mind at a Time_ a bestseller, Levine has recently been featured on several national talk shows and on the ... documentary _Misunderstood Minds_._A Mind at a Time_ is easy for the lay person to read and understand. Although Levine closely follows educational research, he does not cite research studies in _A Mind at a Time_. Rather he bases the book on "objective clinical observation." Levine writes, "For me these kids have been like textbooks on learning and mind development. I can learn more about a child by getting to know her well than by reading a list of computer-generated test scores. In fact, whenever I participate in the clinical evaluation of a child, I see some facets of brain function that I have never before seen."A genuine appreciation of each child shines through each of the case vignettes that Levine includes in _A Mind at a Time_. This appreciation is not merely compassion for a child dealing with learning difficulties; it is a celebration of the unique combination of strengths and weaknesses that makes up each child's mind. Optimism also pervades the discussion of each child.Levine identifies eight "neurodevelopmental systems" that work together during learning. The relationship between these systems is similar to that between the body's physiological systems (such as the circulatory system and the respiratory system). These eight systems are? attention control ? memory? language? spatial ordering? sequential ordering? motor? higher thinking (including problem solving, logical reasoning, critical thinking, creative thinking, and more)? social thinkingLevine examines each of these systems in detail and includes "practical considerations" for helping children function well in each area. He says that many dysfunctions in these areas cannot be identified on any test.Levine points out that people are expected to do well at everything only when they are children. Once they are out of school, they can select a career that is a good match to their neurodevelopmental strengths.Levine believes that before addressing difficulties with learning it is important to examine "how learning works when it's working." This leads to an upward spiral for success as remedies for learning problems can be applied to improve learning strategies for all students. Levine concludes _A Mind at a Time_ with chapters about the roles of the home and the school in learning. He also provides an index and an annotated list of "Helpful Readings and Other Resources."

An Excellent Resource for Parents of School Age Children

Mel Levine's A Mind at a Time is an excellent resource for any parent of a school age child. His book clearly explains his theories on the many different areas a child's mind develops as he or she grows up, and what happens if certain areas lag behind. He offers advice (although I wish there were a little more) on what to do if your child needs a little boost in any particular area. This theory behind this book reminded me very much of the Howard Gardner Multiple Intelligences theory--but I found Levine's much more practical and accessible. Levine breaks down mental development into about 6 different categories, such as memory, language, focus and social development. Each one of these categories has its own chapter and in each chapter each category is then further broken down. Levine gives you ways to recognize if and to what degree a particular child may need help in a particular subcategory and explains that in each category, particular children may be very strong in some areas and much weaker in others. (For instance, a child's memory may be strong in only in the long term, but not the short term--it's not always consistent). Levine also devotes a few chapters to an introduction to his theories and application in schools and in the home. This book is not, of course, the answer to everything--but it will direct parents to where they need to find additional answers with respect to their individual children. Levine's approach to childhood development is refreshing. He rejects labeling children (as ADD, ADHD, etc.) for the most part as overgeneralizing and negative. He reminds us that while some children may need help in certain areas, all children have their own strenghths and that we ought to focus on those in helping them develop. He provides many anecdotal evidence of how his theories have helped particular children. I recommend this book for all parents. I think it will help them to better understand, and help, their children.

EXCELLENT BOOK ON CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT

Anyone who has a child in the school system knows that the educational process does not allow for one-on-one assessment of a child's learning abilities. A child either keeps pace or in many cases, falls behind. The author has written an excellent book on what a child needs in order to grow, learn, and develop his or her full potential. It would be wonderful if all children learned at the same rate and possessed the same aptitude for learning; however, each child is a unique individual. The educational system today does not structure its learning process around that fundamental fact. A good many of the behavioural problems we see surfacing today stem from the fact a child becomes frustrated, bored, overwhelmingly challenged, or discouraged by the educational process, and their actions are often a result of what is lacking in the education system. Some parents, as well, do not take that fact into consideration and often expect Mary to keep up with brother John, because John seems to excel in everything, while Mary struggles to achieve. There are a variety of topics to be found in the book, including development of memory, language, and motor skills. If you are an educator or have a child who is experiencing difficulties in this area, this book provides excellent resource material. It is one parents and individuals with the authority to make changes in the system should read and take to heart. The book contains a valuable message, is well researched, and is equally as well written.
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