A Mind at a Time Hardcover – 29 Apr 2002
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Top Customer Reviews
I would like to also recommend two other books that go well with the Levine's philosophy. One is called "KIDS ARE WORTH IT-Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline".Read more ›
As Dr Levine himself explains 'different brains are differently wired' and his book goes on to explain why and how, liberally explained with helpful examples from his own experience as an education expert.The various learning patterns he describes are revelatory - it all seems obvious once you've read it which just goes to show that he puts his points across with immense lucidity and passion.
The book not only sheds light on the facinating subject of how children learn but also provides invaluable insight into practical coping strategies to deal with weaknesses. Better still, it constantly reminds you to celebrate their strengths.I felt immensely uplifted and encouraged by this book and would urge any parent of a child who might be struggling at school to read this book immediately.
Well done Mel Levine for writing this book and helping me to unlock my son's knowledge stores.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
_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
� spatial ordering
� sequential ordering
� higher thinking (including problem solving, logical reasoning, critical thinking, creative thinking, and more)
� social thinking
Levine 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."
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