The Myth Of Laziness - Dr. Mel Levine

While this book isn't about literacy I felt like it was a great companion book for this topic. It is a worthwhile read, listen in my case, for all educators to help better understand their students.

The concepts that Dr. Levine discusses are completely relevant to literacy leaders.
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 children’s different learning capabilities demand diverse teaching strategies. In The Myth of Laziness, Levine isolates another group of kids--so-called "lazy" children who aren’t 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, Scott’s 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 children’s productivity issues and preparing their children successfully for adulthood. --Cristina Vaamonde --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Publisher's Summary

How many times have you heard a teacher say that your child has tremendous potential "if only he'd just apply himself" or "if only she'd work just a little harder"? How often have you said the same thing to your son or daughter? Or perhaps you have a coworker who can't seem to finish anything; his reports are never in on time, or her projects are always behind schedule. No matter what excuses you hear, you suspect that laziness is the real reason for your colleague's low productivity.

Almost no one is actually lazy, says Dr. Mel Levine, author of A Mind at a Time. Low productivity - whether in school or on the job - is almost always caused by a genuine problem, a neurodevelopmental dysfunction. Despite this, untold numbers of people have been stigmatized by unfair accusations of laziness, many of them adults who still carry emotional scars from their schooldays.

In The Myth of Laziness Dr. Levine shows how we can spot the neurodevelopmental dysfunctions that may cause "output failure," as he calls it, whether in school or in the workplace. Dr. Levine identifies seven forms of dysfunction that obstruct output. Drawing on his years of clinical experience he describes eight people - children, adolescents, and adults - he has worked with who exhibited one or another of these problems. He shows how identifying the problem can make all the difference, leading to a course of corrective action rather than to accusations of laziness and moral failure.

With its practical advice and compassionate tone, The Myth of Laziness shows parents how to nurture their child's strengths and improve their classroom productivity. Most important, it shows how correcting these problems in childhood will help children live a fulfilling and productive adult life.

©2002 Mel Levine, All Rights Reserved; (P)2002 Simon & Schuster Inc., All Rights Reserved, AUDIOWORKS Is an Imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster Inc.