A Mind at a Time

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"Different minds learn differently," writes Dr. Mel Levine, one of the best-known education experts and pediatricians in America today. And that's a problem for many children, because most schools still cling to a one-size-fits-all education philosophy. As a result, these children struggle because their learning patterns don't fit the schools they are in.
In A Mind at a Time, Dr. Levine shows parents and others who care for children how to identify these individual learning patterns. He explains how parents and teachers can encourage a child's strengths and bypass the child's weaknesses. This type of teaching produces satisfaction and achievement instead of frustration and failure.
Different brains are differently wired, Dr. Levine explains. There are eight fundamental systems, or components, of learning that draw on a variety of neurodevelopmental capacities. Some students are strong in certain areas and some are strong in others, but no one is equally capable in all eight. Using examples drawn from his own extensive experience, Dr. Levine shows how parents and children can identify their strengths and weaknesses to determine their individual learning styles.
For example, some students are creative and write imaginatively but do poorly in history because weak memory skills prevent them from retaining facts. Some students are weak in sequential ordering and can't follow directions. They may test poorly and often don't do well in mathematics. In these cases, Dr. Levine observes, the problem is not a lack of intelligence but a learning style that doesn't fit the assignment. Drawing on his pioneering research and his work with thousands of students, Dr. Levine shows how parents and teachers can develop effective strategies to work through or around these weaknesses.
"It's taken for granted in adult society that we cannot all be 'generalists' skilled in every area of learning and mastery. Nevertheless, we apply tremendous pressure to our children to be good at everything. They are expected to shine in math, reading, writing, speaking, spelling, memorization, comprehension, problem solving...and none of us adults can" do all this, observes Dr. Levine. Learning begins in school but it doesn't end there. Frustrating a child's desire to learn will have lifelong repercussions. This frustration can be avoided if we understand that not every child can do equally well in every type of learning. We must begin to pay more attention to individual learning styles, to individual minds, urges Dr. Levine, so that we can maximize children's learning potential. In A Mind at a Time he shows us how.
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About the author

Mel Levine, M.D., is professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina Medical School and director of its Clinical Center for the Study of Development and Learning. He is the founder and cochairman of All Kinds of Minds, a nonprofit institute for the understanding of differences in learning, and the author of two previous national best-selling books, A Mind at a Time and The Myth of Laziness. He and his wife, Bambi, live on Sanctuary Farm in North Carolina.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Apr 4, 2002
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9780743217682
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Language
English
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Genres
Education / Educational Policy & Reform / School Safety
Education / Teaching Methods & Materials / General
Family & Relationships / Education
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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How many times have you heard a teacher say that your child has tremendous potential "if only he'd just apply himself" or "if only she'd work just a little harder"? How often have you said the same thing to your son or daughter? Or perhaps you have a coworker who can't seem to finish anything; his reports are never in on time, or her projects are always behind schedule. No matter what excuses you hear, you suspect that laziness is the real reason for your colleague's low productivity.
Almost no one is actually lazy, says Dr. Mel Levine, author of the #1 national bestseller A Mind at a Time. Low productivity -- whether in school or on the job -- is almost always caused by a genuine problem, a neuro-developmental dysfunction. Despite this, untold numbers of people have been stigmatized by unfair accusations of laziness, many of them adults who still carry emotional scars from their school days.
In The Myth of Laziness Dr. Levine shows how we can spot the neurodevelopmental dysfunctions that may cause "output failure," as he calls it, whether in school or in the workplace. Dr. Levine identifies seven forms of dysfunction that obstruct output. Drawing on his years of clinical experience he describes eight people -- children, adolescents, and adults -- he has worked with who exhibited one or another of these problems. He shows how identifying the problem can make all the difference, leading to a course of corrective action rather than to accusations of laziness and moral failure. For example, a child who is unable to plan or to think ahead, who cannot consider different methods of accomplishing something or has difficulty making choices may wait until it is too late to complete an assignment or may act impulsively, creating a pattern of bad judgments and careless errors. Dr. Levine explains how such a child can be helped to learn how to plan ahead and weigh various alternatives. This sort of problem, if untreated, can persist into adulthood, where it can wreak far more havoc than in the classroom.
The Myth of Laziness explains the significance of writing as a key barometer of productivity during the school years. Because writing brings together so many neurodevelopmental functions -- such as memory, motor control, organization, and verbalization of ideas -- it can provide crucial clues to pinpoint the sources of output failure.
With its practical advice and its compassionate tone, The Myth of Laziness shows parents how to nurture their children's strengths and improve their classroom productivity. Most important, it shows how correcting these problems in childhood will help children live a fulfilling and productive adult life.
Every parent wants to know, "What will he be like when he's in his twenties?" After decades of observing children grow into young adults, Dr. Mel Levine, nationally known pediatrician and author, addresses the question of why some youngsters make a successful transition into adulthood while others do not.
In recent years, says Dr. Levine, we have experienced an epidemic of career unreadiness as too many young people begin what he calls "the startup years" unprepared for the challenge of initiating a productive life. Parents and schools often raise children in a highly structured world of overscheduled activities, meeting kids' demands for immediate gratification but leaving them unable to cope on their own. Instead of making a smooth transition into adulthood, many youngsters find themselves trapped in their teenage years, traveling down the wrong career road, unable to function in the world of work. These young people have failed, says Dr. Levine, to properly assess their strengths and weaknesses and have never learned the basics of choosing and advancing through the stages of a career.
Dr. Levine urges that schools focus less on college prep (which, he points out, generally means "college admissions prep") and instead teach "life prep," equipping adolescents with what they will need to succeed as adults. He identifies these skills as falling within four growth processes, "the four I's": inner direction, or self-awareness; interpretation, or understanding the outside world; instrumentation, or the acquisition of mental tools; and interaction, or the ability to relate to other people effectively. It is these abilities that ensure a successful transition into the startup years of early adulthood. Parents, schools, and adolescents themselves can all work together to improve work-life readiness, and Dr. Levine shows how. He even offers advice for young adults who find themselves unable to navigate the world of careers.
Insightful, wise, and compassionate, Ready or Not, Here Life Comes is a powerful commentary on our times and a book that can help adolescents and startup adults -- with an assist from parents and educators -- to spring from the starting gate of adulthood.
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