!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: All Kinds of Minds

Sunday, February 25, 2007

All Kinds of Minds

Back in 1995, Charles Schwab, of discount brokerage fame, and Mel Levine, a professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina Medical School in Chapel Hill, co-founded All Kinds of Minds, a non-profit organization with the mission of helping
students who struggle with learning measurably improve their success in school and life by providing programs that integrate educational, scientific, and clinical expertise.
Though All Kinds of Minds is concerned with individuals of school age and, specifically, with individuals coping with disabling learning differences, much of what they have to offer in the way of research-based expertise is useful to those working with adult learners of all varieties.

As explained at its website, All Kinds of Minds
has developed a variety of programs to help parents, educators, clinicians, and kids understand and manage learning issues. All are based on a neurodevelopmental approach to learning [explained here] and a search for recurring themes in a student’s learning and performance, themes upon which we can build an individualized management plan.
All Kinds of Minds takes the view that when a student is experiencing difficulty in learning,
it's important to pinpoint where that breakdown is occurring. To do that, we work with teachers, parents, clinicians, and students to create what we call a "neurodevelopmental profile" of a student who is falling behind. That is, we look carefully at each of the functions of the brain that can affect the ways a student learns and performs. Based on this profile, we develop a plan to help the child succeed in school. This provides an in-depth insight that traditional labels [such as Attention Deficit Disorder] lack.
All Kinds of Minds leverages individuals' strengths and affinities. Not only does research indicate that this approach is successful in promoting children's learning, but it also fits with how people function in adulthood, when "the strength of each person's strengths and not the weakness of her weaknesses will be what really counts." The underlying philosophy is that "[h]elping a kid get better at what she is good at can help her work through or around any weakness she may have. You can use her strengths to improve her weaknesses."

All Kinds of Minds' website offers a long list of articles and other resources you can browse for ideas. For example, The Critical Need for Kids to Think Critically includes an admirably clear example of a systematic ten-step critical thinking process.

There is also a comprehensive glossary of neurodevelopmental constructs (e.g., attention, memory) and functions. The glossary provides a definition of each item, along with examples of strong and weak command of the function in question. For instance, "political acumen" is defined as "[n]urturing positive relationships with important people, particularly adults." Examples of strong function are:
  • Makes adults feel good by showing an interest or appreciation for them

  • Is effective at relating positively with peer leaders
Examples of weak function are:
  • Behaves in ways that reflect indifference or rudeness towards adults

  • Neglects to develop positive relationships with influential peers
It does not require much effort to extrapolate the definitons and examples to adult contexts.