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Roadblocks to Learning    by Lawrence J. Greene order for
Roadblocks to Learning
by Lawrence J. Greene
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2002 (2002)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The introduction states that 'in American classrooms, 7 million children are struggling academically' and that 'only 3-4 percent of these marginally performing students are actually being provided with formal learning assistance.' The author goes on to discuss the inevitable emotional damage that leads to closed doors in life, and to comment on the irony of the fact that it's the students with the milder, more easily remediated learning difficulties, that are least likely to receive assistance.

The author continues with a comprehensive coverage of all the academic areas, including topics like 'Passive Learning', 'Study Interruptions' and 'Time Management'. Each section introduces the issue and describes typical problematic behaviors; explains how students are often perceived by teachers; gives causes, symptoms and solutions; and includes cross-references to related issues. This is extremely useful as reference material, either for a parent of a child with known deficits, or for anyone anxious to help an underachieving child to realize their full potential - for example to improve their study skills and work to become a more active learner.

I found the discussion of the controversy around 'Standardized Tests' enlightening, and the resulting 'teach-to-the-test' phenomenon discouraging. The author's notion of AIQ, 'applied intelligence quotient' to cover 'the pragmatic application of intelligence in handling challenges' is a useful concept to explain why some brilliant kids perform marginally in school. The author elaborates on this regarding difficulties in logical decision making, in prioritizing, and in strategic thinking.

Another section focusses on behaviors from anger and apathy to 'Teacher-Child Conflict' and issues in working independently. Finally there is discussion of different areas of deficits (perceptual processing, psychological factors and speech and language issues) that can cause learning difficulty. There is frequent mention of the downward spiral caused by the poor self-esteem, frustration and depression that results when kids don't get the help they need.

This is an excellent resource. It appears to be designed as a reference manual more than as a book to be read cover to cover, with frequent repetition of some points and heavy cross-referencing. It also shares with other such volumes the problem that it will not be clear to many parents which degrees of certain difficulties (like disorganization) are in the normal range. It covers topics, like note taking, that will be especially helpful for children in middle to high school, and often emphasizes the importance of finding forums in which kids with learning difficulties can be successful.

I hope that Roadblocks to Learning gets the very wide readership that it deserves, and that the countless children who need this kind of help benefit.

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