“Planet earth is inhabited by all kinds of people who have all kinds of minds...”
by Mel Levine, M.D.
Amazon.com Review: Recognizing each child’s intellectual, emotional, and physical strengths—and teaching directly to these strengths—is key to sculpting “a mind at a time,” according to Dr. Mel Levine. While this flashing yellow light will not surprise many skilled educators, limited resources often prevent them from shifting their instructional gears. But to teachers and parents whose children face daily humiliation at school, the author bellows, “Try harder!” A professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina Medical School, Levine eloquently substantiates his claim that developmental growth deserves the same monitoring as a child’s physical growth.
Tales of creative, clumsy, impulsive, nerdy, intuitive, loud-mouthed, and painfully shy kids help Levine define eight specific mind systems (attention, memory, language, spatial ordering, sequential ordering, motor, higher thinking, and social thinking). Levine also incorporates scientific research to show readers how the eight neurodevelopmental systems evolve, interact, and contribute to a child’s success in school. Detailed steps describe how mental processes (like problem solving) work for capable kids, and how they can be finessed to serve those who struggle. Clear, practical suggestions for fostering self-monitoring skills and building self-esteem add the most important elements to this essential—yet challenging—program for “raisin’ brain.” —Liane Thomas
From Publishers Weekly: Children have different ways of learning, argues Levine, a professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina Medical School and director of its Clinical Center for the Study of Development and Learning, so why do schools behave as though a one-size-fits-all education will work for everyone? Like Howard Gardner’s Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983), Levine’s book argues that our educational shortsightedness results in a loss of human potential on a grand scale, as kids who don’t fit the mold are misclassified, stigmatized and then fail. If educators could assess differences more intelligently and redesign educational models to account for these differences, they would radically improve people’s prospects for success in and out of school. Based on his work with children who have learning or behavioral problems, Levine has isolated eight areas of learning (the memory system, the language system, the spatial ordering system, the motor system, etc.). He provides chapters describing how each type of learning works and advises parents and teachers on how to help kids struggling in these areas. Levine emphasizes that all minds have some areas of giftedness and pleads for educators to “make a firm social and political commitment to neurodevelopmental pluralism.” Such a plea may seem daunting, but Levine’s compassionate, accessible text, framed around actual case studies, makes it seem do-able. This is a must-read for parents and educators who want to understand and improve the school lives of children.
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