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The Myth of Laziness Paperback – January 2, 2004
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A professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina Medical School, Mel Levine received acclaim for his previous book, A Mind at a Time, which argued that childrens different learning capabilities demand diverse teaching strategies. In The Myth of Laziness, Levine isolates another group of kids--so-called "lazy" children who arent working up to their potential in school--and explores the causes of their low performance. Levine scoffs at the perception that any child is lazy, stating that "everybody yearns to be productive." These children, according to Levine, are simply experiencing "output failure" due to different neuro-developmental weaknesses.
Levine produces case studies of seven children and adults who have been labeled lazy and identifies internal sources that are undermining their production. Many of their output issues revolve around difficulties with writing, as is the case with Russell, who is hindered by his low motor skills, or Clint, whose long-term memory lapses prevent him from expressing himself well. Other weaknesses, such as poor oral language ability, mental energy dysfunction, poor idea generation, and organizational problems, plague the individuals in these case studies. Levine talks briefly about external factors that contribute to low output, such as socioeconomic background, family life, and negative role models. In the profile for Scott Murray, Levine even has the humility to admit that he was unable to reach this young man. External influences--namely, Scotts privileged upbringing--were too pervasive in causing his output failure.
The last few chapters are devoted to suggestions for what parents and teachers can do to foster productive output in their children and students and how to detect a problem that is internal rather than environmental. Tips on how to cultivate writing skills, set up an organized home office, and assist with homework are aimed at parents while teachers are encouraged to consider individuality among their students learning styles. Finally, the appendices offer two worksheets to help students plan stories and reports. Two additional worksheets help pinpoint whether output problems are the cause of poor schoolwork. This is a valuable book that will give parents some guidance in solving their childrens productivity issues and preparing their children successfully for adulthood. --Cristina Vaamonde
From Publishers Weekly
Pediatrician Levine, a developmental-behavioral expert, offers theories on why it's so hard for some teenagers-even bright ones-to succeed in school. "Often these individuals absorb and process information well; they learn but they don't produce," he says, adding, "people say glibly that they are not `living up to their potential.' " Levine prefers the term "output failure" over "laziness." In a series of case studies, he discusses the biological, neurological and psychological factors that may be responsible for "output failure." He focuses on kids challenged by oral and written communication; he believes parents and educators must pay attention to different learning styles rather than simply label a child as lazy. Even fidgeting, according to Levine, may be a plus: "Isn't it odd that kids get criticized for being fidgety when they should be commended for implementing a strategy that significantly elevates their attention?" Despite the thought-provoking theories and discussions of problems such as impairment in the generation of ideas and memory difficulties, only the final chapter, "Cultivating and Restoring Output," offers a broad range of strategies that can be used to remedy such troubles. Still, the advice-e.g., create a home office for kids, document time spent and level of output, adjust expectations-is on target and should help struggling parents.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is particularly useful to adults who work with children whose most pressing obstacle is low output of school work. Here are strategies for improving productivity through self-tracking...the student can track his own progress in producing more completed assignments, for example, which relocates accountability and satisfaction where it belongs: with the student. Many strategies to attain improved output are presented and are generally practical, which is a breath of fresh air to all concerned.
This is especially helpful if read following Mel Levine's "A Mind at a Time". For secondary and college age students, "Learning Outside the Lines", by Joathan Mooney and David Cole should take its place immediately on the reading list.
The range of composite studies include the following:
- lack of coordination and stunting one child's writing ability,
- low mental energy in another (and her father), and
- the lack of creativity by an otherwise high-producing student.
This should be required reading for every schoolteacher in America! Highly recommended!