Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Mind at a Time

A Mind at a Time by Mel Levine

I really enjoyed this book and am planning to blog more about it in future.  I got it from Paperback Swap.   It is basically about what you might call "learning glitches" or "learning differences" and how they can be diagnosed and solved.    He describes several "systems":

Our Attention Control System
Our Memory System
Our Language System
Our Spatial and Sequential Ordering System
Our Motor System
Our Higher Thinking System
Our Social System
His point is that a relative weakness in one of these systems can lead to academic deficits, so finding and addressing the problem can bring up performance.  His focus is particularly on academics but also on athletics, artistic performance and social abilities insofar as these affect a child's happiness and coping abilities.

He uses case examples to illustrate how a weakness in some part of one of these systems can show up and how to work with it.    When students are brought to him for help, he does tests to get a profile of their relative strengths and weaknesses.  He then presents the profile to the child (who often has developed a sense of herself or himself as "bad" "dumb" "lazy" or "klutzy") in a helpful, positive way.  He tells them their strengths -- which is often news to them; and then tells them where some extra targeted work could help them in their area of weakness.  

I don't know if it was just that his approach worked for me -- his positive "engineering" style of intervention and his targeting of specifics -- but I wished I had read this book several years ago.  It would have been useful to me when teaching my children, I think.   It clarified a lot of things I guessed at intuitionally but couldn't really pinpoint.   Even kids who are generally functioning quite well might be helped by some of his strategies, which were usually quite simple and made lots of sense.    I intend to go through this book again in much greater depth.

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