Summary and book reviews of A Mind At A Time by Dr. Mel Levine

A Mind At A Time

by Dr. Mel Levine

A Mind At A Time
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2002, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2003, 352 pages

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Book Summary

Different minds learn differently - Dr. Levine shows parents and others who care for children how to identify these individual learning patterns in order to focus on the child's learning strengths.

"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.

CHAPTER ONE
The Ways of Learning

The mosquito is an automaton. It can afford to be nothing else. There are only about one hundred thousand nerve cells in its tiny head, and each one has to pull its weight. The only way to run accurately and successfully through a life cycle in a matter of days is by instinct, a series of rigid behaviors programmed by the genes....The channels of human mental development, in contrast, are circuitous and variable.
Edward O. Wilson, On Human Nature


Fritz wore very thick lenses in his wire-rimmed spectacles. He was an awkward kid who mostly liked being by himself. At age eight he was becoming an insatiable glutton for the printed word, devouring all manner of written nourishment wherever he found it. At first, his parents were vexed by his marathon stays locked in the bathroom, until they found out that that was where their eccentric Fritz felt most comfortable savoring his reading. Fritz came to see me because of some motor problems, ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This is a must-read for parents and educators who want to understand and improve the school lives of children.

Author Blurb Charles R. Schwab, Chairman, Charles Schwab Corporation
Dr. Levine's life work is powerfully captured in this book, showing us that all kids can succeed in school and in life. This book gives teachers and parents practical strategies for recognizing a child's ways of learning, tailoring instruction to address individual differences, while providing motivation and support.

Author Blurb Howard Gardner; John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor in Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education
A Mind at a Time is a wide-ranging exploration of the myriad ways in which young minds differ, coupled with vivid and useful recommendations about developing those minds to the fullest.

Author Blurb Frank Keating, Governor of Oklahoma
With A Mind at a Time, Dr. Mel Levine provides an incredible must-read for parents and educators who want to ensure that our children have the resources they need to learn and be successful...This book is more than important. It's inspiring, and eloquently makes the case for how we can give our children the tools they need to make the most out of life.

Author Blurb Edward Hallowell, M.D. Instructor, Harvard Medical School; Director, The Hallowell Center, Sudbury, Massachusetts.
A Mind at a Time continues Mel Levine's enormously valuable lifework of helping children find success, especially those children whose talents are not immediately recognized and valued by adults. This courageous and brilliant pediatrician has caused the medical textbooks to be rewritten and the educational curricula to be reformed. Brimming with intelligence, humor, wit, and originality, Dr. Levine is most of all full of love for children. This is a groundbreaking and useful book.

Reader Reviews

Okie

The Techniques That Assist Individual Differences
The variety of students and their learning disorders are an enormous challenge for them, their families and teachers. Within Levine's book are honest examples and useful techniques to help each student to overcome their difficulties. This book ...   Read More

CHERI WOOD

ONE MIND AT A TIME
This is one of the best books I have ever read that truly addresses the need to evaluate every child and teen as a total person. As a parent and an educator, this book reminds us of the importance of focusing on connections and what a student is ...   Read More

Cindy Garzon

Every person in the field of education should read this book. It really helps put into perspective the complexity of "simple" actions we take for granted.

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