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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.

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

Customer Reviews:

  • 'DA BOMB!!
    Without (hopefully) sounding too breathy, I believe Levine will do for learning theory what Jung did for the study of the unconscious. This is big stuff, and while Levine may be somewhat of a learning theory disciple himself, he takes good work and adds his own enlightened and profound vision. Result? A focus on how EVERY child is not only unique, but completely capable and wired for intellectual success. We've just got to determine how to best enhance and encourage this process by being able to work from the child's unique blueprint. It's our job as teachers (and I mean all of us, not just the teaching professionals) to guide, nurture and foster the minds of young children - to try to understand and encourage them, not just practice the same old traditional (and often damaging)learning models. We are the smart, experienced adults, aren't we? We must be willing to at least entertain the idea that perhaps there are other ways of teaching and learning - that children's intelligence is as varied and valuable as the intelligence of adults.

    Dr. Mel Levine, in addition to being well-educated and credentialed, is perhaps most importantly, a visionary. He possesses a humbleness and divine reverence for that sometimes unseen but always present potential. This potential exists not only in children, but all living things. It is a most inspiring work, and he, an inspiring, beautiful soul....more info

  • A Refreshing Alternative
    Mel Levine is a pediatrician and what some would call a "learning expert," and as such, he explains the task of learning and promotes the methods in which to help every child learn appropriately.

    It is evident that childrens' minds work differently, with some advancing well through the multiplicity of tasks which they must learn in school. Then there are the others who struggle.

    Rather than "labeling" children, or even these "others," as "learning disabled" or that A.D.D., Mel Levine advocates diagnosing particular problems and using quite specific strategies to overcome them.

    This is a breath of fresh air which has entered into this dialogue, and I would recommend those who want a provocative read to dive right in....more info

  • A practical and positive approach
    When I was studying psychology and neurobiology almost 30 years ago, the big learning dichotomy was between visually minded people and auditorily minded people, of which 80% were visual and 20% auditory, it was thought. It was felt our school systems catered largely to visual types, and so the auditory types got short shrift.

    Then came another famous dichotomy, the great Roger Sperry's theory of left- and right-brained people, an idea that so galvanized and captured the popular imagination that it became a permanent part of our popular culture. Again, our system was thought to do a better job of educating the more analytical left-brained types than the more creative, spatial, and intuitive right-brained types.

    Since then other eminent psychologists, such as Howard Gardner, with his theory of frames and multiple intelligences, have propounded similar ideas. Whether or not any of these theories has had much impact on the educational process, there is no doubt that our system of mass education lacks the awareness of, and the ability to make the most of, each child's particular set of abilities and particular learning mode.

    Levine's book is yet another contribution to this historical tradition, arguing like Gardner that our system of mass education results in a tremendous loss of human potential. He proposes children fall into one of 8 different learning modes, and suggests ways for us to deal with the special developmental and educational needs of each of these different types. The book also contains valuable discussions on the development of memory, language, and motor skills.

    Whether Levine's 8-fold system is the last word on learning modes or not, it still goes far beyond the capabilities of our present educational system's ability to implement. But if we could even implement some of the changes Levine suggests, the improvements could be dramatic. Levine's message is timely and his approach compelling, and is perhaps just what our ailing, cookie-cutter educational system needs to do to truly teach and educate our children....more info

    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....more info

  • Great book!
    This is by far the best book on learning styles and education i have read. The focus is on maximizing *each* child's personal potental. The message is extremly positive. *EVERY* child has abilities and *NEEDS* consistant re-enforcemant for what they do have as opposed to what they lack...which is unfortunately how alot of school system function. There is information on disabilities but the focus seems to be on each childs *abilities*... and to nurture these abilites . I found the information very helpful. The explanations clear and informative without being difficult to understand. There were suggestions that you could incorporate into your childs education and new ways to look at problems. It helps you focus on where the problems are and helps you to find solutions... Is disruption actually boredom? Is inattentiveness boredom? or is it a signal of a learning issue...or is your child bored and inattentive *because* of a concrete learning issue? And even than it is broken down... is it a problem with memory? is it long term momory or short term? Can your child remember a certain number of facts but past a certain point it becomes a confusing mess? Is it not memory at all...but can your child just not get his thoughts down on paper? There are suggestions for helping all kinds of children. The overall message is that *ALL* children can be productive and positive in their own way and *all* children dont learn well in the typical school environment. Many do not, it seems. I found this book to be very up-beat and not dry. Despite that there is alot of information provided. It is a book i will read more than one time...more info
  • An eye-opener and food for thought
    I first picked up this book because I believe that every child is an individual and has individual needs. When I started reading the book I finally found someone else who believes that too. Levine carefully looks at each "learning disability" and breaks it down into various components. Upon reading, I began to see many of my own RSP students more clearly. Susie doesn't just have ADD,she has problems with auditory distrators. For those naysayers, perhaps Levine is ahead of his time, perhaps he has seen somethings others haven't yet (remember, there was a time when folks that blood-letting was appropriate). For me and several of my professional friends, this book is an inspiration to look more deeply at each student and it gives us the tools to do so. It is heavy reading, I will admit. I actually took the content and created a graphic reading guide to go with it for my staff because you can get lost in it if you are not a careful reader. This is not casual bedtime reading....more info
    Wether your a teacher or a parent or a psychiatrist, this book is a usefull tool for understanding the way children act, why they act, and what drives them. The Author has a wonderful understanding on how important it is to catch the child early on. Another book along these lines that I would also recommend, but more for teens, is called "The Little Guide To Happiness". It's great for beating teen depression....more info
  • Informative - should be read by all parents and teachers!
    This book clearly defines how different minds learn and process the vast amounts of information encountered on a daily basis in school and in everyday life. The author is clearly at the top of his field and can very easily communicate his findings in a way that is easy to comprehend, extremely informative and interesting to read. ...more info
  • The Best Book on the Market for Your Struggling Learner
    Dr. Levine's book, A Mind at a Time, is so comprehensive that it is challenging to pare it down to a few essential ideas. He begins by telling the reader why he is "a pediatrician with a mission". He endeavors to accurately describe the struggles of unsuccessful children, to explain the brain's working and dysfunctions which we all experience and see in others, and to provide a "road map" for parents and teachers to knowledgeably observe their children's cognitive development. This observation by a trained eye allows for early detection of breakdowns in learning as well as necessary identification of a child's cognitive strengths, overall assets, and consuming passions. Interestingly, research into problematic learning is also a study of all learning, and how the brain is supposed to function. Only when we are equipped with accurate information regarding a child's diverse kind of mind can we begin to explain why they are struggling and how they can best conquer or compensate for these challenges. It is vital that this knowledge be openly shared with young developing minds so that they know from the start that they are not what they feared, but rather free to grow stronger given the knowledge and help they need to succeed.

    Dr. Levine's text covers an overview of the ways of learning, and how lifestyle choices can help or hurt an individual's learning styles. He then goes on to detail the eight neurodevelopmental systems, chapter by chapter: the Attention Control System, the Memory System, the Language System, the Spatial Ordering System, the Sequential Ordering System, the Motor System, the Higher Thinking System, and the Social Thinking System. These systems develop at diverse paces, but must be utilized to grow strong and to stay strong. Although complex and detailed, this book is written in terms a layperson can understand with some thoughtful reading and perhaps a little rereading.

    Chapter 10 is devoted to helping the educator or parent pinpoint the areas of breakdown based on evidence from past productivity, behaviors, and learning difficulties. Dr. Levine has divided these areas of breakdown into particular profiles based upon recurring patterns that occur with particular types of brain wiring. He explains each profile, giving case studies to better illustrate what may be typical of each profile. He also details different emotional mindsets that can interfere with a child's achieving his or her potential, and provides strategies to overcome those negative behaviors. Finally, he addresses the benefits and possible detriment of testing, and the outcomes in adulthood.

    Dr. Levine adds several additional chapters to provide even more tools for working with different kinds of minds. He discusses the management of a profile, which is broken down into stages: demystification, accommodations, interventions at the breakdown points, strengthening strengths and affinities, protection from humiliation, and using professional therapies. He devotes a whole chapter to provide parents with best methods for nurturing these children at home. He also devotes a chapter to the teacher's role and what types of policies are practiced in "a humane school".

    I especially appreciate Dr. Levine's kind heart, which is evident throughout this book. He encourages parents and educators who know a child with a brain that is not meeting necessary demands not to give up on that child, and don't allow them to give up on themselves either. He reminds us that our minds are not stagnant, but come into their own with time. School is the hardest thing that many of these kids are ever going to have to face, because it focuses so intensely on particular skills, such as math and language, while devaluing other important skills, such as interpersonal abilities and creativity. He also reminds us that report cards are notoriously poor predictors of a child's potential. Throughout the numerous case studies, Dr. Levine is an encourager, an empowering force, the voice of hope and predictor of success. His position, experience, and knowledge of current research lend weight to his optimistic determination. Later, at the end of each chapter detailing the neurodevelopmental systems, Dr. Levine lists strategies, a tool box of helpful, practical information to help students, their teachers, and their parents in ways that are immediate and useful. He considers these children to be heroes and heroines, distinctively different in their learning styles, but valiantly courageous in their ability to cope, their resilience, and their will to overcome.

    Dr. Levine has covered his topic completely, with every avenue of possibility addressed appropriately and in the most humble, helpful manner. I have worked with a developmental pediatrician who trained under Dr. Levine, and I can say without any hesitation, if I was younger, I would jump at the chance to train under Dr. Levine myself....more info
  • Thank you Dr. Levine
    I loved this book because I believe that every child is unique and I appreciate being reminded about the complexity of the brain and why it should be expected that we all have little quirks. Educators can sadly have blinders to differences in learning style. Mel Levine's work reminds me of Howard Gardner's in many ways. I sense that he truly cares about kids and I like that he supports what is best practice in education. Levine says he can learn more about a child by getting to know that child than by reading a list of test scores........let's hear it for that! Levine says, "sometimes you fix a weakness by pursuing strengths." I support that positive approach. To enhance my teaching I found many great quotes perfect for Back to School night and parents who have borrowed his book have enjoyed it immensely....more info
  • Great! It'll change your perspective!
    In this book you realize that there is really no such thing as dumb, that all brains work differently. It helps focus on the REAL issues of learning, instead of lumping your understanding into ADHD or some other category. You should read it!...more info
  • A Map of the Mind
    This book is one of the best that I have read this year. There is so much sensibility and science in coming to know how we learn.

    If you read but one book in 2002 then this book is the one that you should read. The writing will help you better to understand yourself, and the many people in your life. I have applied the ideas in the book to working with my children, with co-workers, managers, and customers. The result has been improved and more productive relationships because now I am able to understand how "my machine" works, as well as how others think.

    The best fighter pilots understand the strengths and weaknesses of their aircraft. So, they prepare for combat by maximizing the strong qualities, and in minimizing the weak points. This analogy is useful to apply to our lives.

    We tend to torture ourselves about our weaker qualities, but we have a habit of overlooking our strengths. Consider the book's examples, and use this information to find and to apply your most powerful qualities while neutralizing your weaker skills....more info

  • Instruction manual
    Thank you Dr. Levine for this instruction manual about the mind!!! I have read this book several times already and learn something new each time I read it. I continue to use it as a reference for when I am stumped about either my own behavior or a child's behavior. ...more info
  • Excellent book for teachers and parents
    This book helps you identify the issues that are holding your children back, how to prevent labeling and how to identify their learning style and promote their strengths. It can give you general information about how to promote a healthy emotional development. I would couple this book with practical application through a book entitled Kid Cooperation: How to Stop Yelling, Nagging and Pleading. The result of combining the knowledge from these two books will be happy, well-rounded children and peaceful parents....more info
  • A must-read for parents
    Dr. Levine has a logical, common-sense approach to education and learning. Why do we expect children to be experts in all subjects, when we wouldn't think of expecting the same of adults? Any parent who wants to be an effective educational advocate for his or her child would do well to read and absorb the philosophy presented in this book. I gave it four stars instead of five simply because I found it somewhat dry reading in places. But on the whole the language is straightforward and the ideas excellent....more info
  • it is obvious why this book gets such great reviews
    Of course all parents want to believe that each of their kids is special, blah blah blah, and so they rave about a book which tells them that.

    Yes, there is a basic message here useful for parents and educators-- don't treat kids the same, duh.

    And while the author seems like a great person, and the book is well written with lots of nice stories, I was very disappointed in (a) the lack of scientific facts (e.g., predictions based on tests and research to show predictions were accurate) and (b) a list of options for your kid if they profile a certain way.

    It would be great if there were a simple test one could take to score yourself in each of the N (here, 8) main functional areas of the brain, and then tell you what careers would be best for you, to maximize your unique profile, leverage your strengths, and minimize impact of your weaknesses....more info

  • Instruction manual
    Thank you Dr. Levine for this instruction manual about the mind!!! I have read this book several times already and learn something new each time I read it. I continue to use it as a reference for when I am stumped about either my own behavior or a child's behavior. ...more info
  • A Mind at a Time
    This book provides an excellent explanation of the frustrations that some kids face on a day to day basis. This book should be required reading for all teachers, parents, and any other profession which works with children....more info
  • The Pot Of Gold
    This book is extremely well done in as much of a story about the learning styles of kids as well as each child can be successful if society would only listen. I watched the author on [a talk show] and feel close to his studies as well as his thoughts. The experiences that I have gone and grown through with my own children have taught me the educational systems need to wake up and smell success for each and every child. This indepth book allows not only parents to get a clear picture of why so many of our children are failing in the "you have to be a perfect kid" world, but it was a great read for my older children too. We are not made out of the same molds, have the same brains or even have close to the same imagination levels, so why should we all be expected to learn the same way as everyone else? It's high time the educational systems agree to changes and flexible schedules in teaching styles to better fit different learning styles. As with most parents, it is my deepest wish that my kids are allowed to have a successful education that makes them feel valid, strong and independent instead of stupid, clumsy and of an odd cookie cutter image that no one cares about nor will ever be able to utilize. Two other books who speak highly about learning styles, personalities and growing healthy emotional minds, among other topics, are: The Successful Child, by William Sears and Mommy-CEO, REVISED EDITION, by family expert and syndicated columnist, Jodie Lyyn. These three books are truely pots of gold and should be on everyone's Christmas lists, in every household and in every library with enough copies to go around. Kudos and many thanks to all three of these authors for their hard work in making family life a little more doable, not especially easier, but certainly better in the end....more info