The Bottom Line
by Richard Selznick, Ph.D.; 160 pages. Subtitle: Helping Your Academically Discouraged Child.
A better title might have been "The Visual Learner" or "The Spatial Learner," since that's the kind of shut-down learner this book is concerned with, and there are certainly others. If you've got what the author calls a "Lego kid" who can perform mechanical tasks with ease but chokes on reading and writing, you'll find some good clues and cues here. If your child shuts down for other reasons, you may get some hints here but no solid answers.
- It's short, which makes this worn-down reader happy
- Interesting look at the different ways kids can have problems with reading
- May give you a new and productive angle from which to consider your frustrated, frustrating child
- Case studies show the many different ways these learners look
- Offers specific tips and strategies for opening what's shut
- Not all shut-down learners are visual learners, and they're shut out here
- If you don't like case studies, there are a lot of them to wade through
- Last two chapters are only interviews and case studies, light on specifics for your child
- Cartoon illustrations don't really add much to the text
- Chapter 1: The Shut-Down Learner Introduced
- Chapter 2: The Shut-Down Learner Described
- Chapter 3: What to Do With the Shut-Down Learner
- Chapter 4: The Shut-Down Learner's Perspective
- Chapter 5: Shut-Down Learner Success Stories
- Appendix: Winds of Change: Innovation Around the Country
Guide Review - Book Review: The Shut-Down Learner
Kids who have a strong visual understanding of the world around them but trouble reducing that to letters and numbers on a piece of paper are poorly served by most school systems these days. Standardized tests and worksheets and term papers don't do a good job of measuring these students' knowledge, and lengthy lectures don't do much to impart it. So kids who may show real talent in some areas struggle and fail in the Three Rs, frustrating them and stumping their parents.
These "Lego kids" -- the ones who can construct elaborate creations with the interlocking blocks but can't combine letters and words with the same facility -- are the focus of The Shut-Down Learner, which treats them with compassion and understanding they rarely find in the classroom. Or at home, either, where parents wage battles over homework and grades and messy rooms. Author Selznick, a psychologist who is the director of the Cooper Learning Center in New Jersey, has some good ideas for playing to these youngsters' strengths, and shares them in lengthy case studies and short bullet-point boxes. I don't know what kind of learner this makes me, but I prefer the latter.
While the children in question here are undeniably shut-down learners, it's worth noting that "academically discouraged" children without that strong spatial ability are not the concern of this book, and if you've got one of those, you'll find some insights here but no solutions. It's fair enough for an author to concentrate on one kind of learner, but I wish the title and subtitle had indicated that focus up front. Perhaps Selznick's next book can clue the rest of us in.
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