Monday, February 21, 2011

Addressing Diverse Needs In The Classroom

Earlier today I wrote a blog about addressing diverse needs in the classroom and Dr. Mel Levine's theoretical contributions to education.  I understandably received controversial comments.  In my effort to more sensitively and more accurately express myself I was editing the post and accidentally wiped it out  and cannot quickly replicate it, nor am I sure that now is the best time to do so.

My intention was to draw attention to parts of Levine's theory I found helpful,  and not to eulogize the man as the accusations against him were and are inexcusable.  I am sorry the post was erased and with time, I will post what I found intriguing about addressing all kinds of minds in a classroom again, in a more sensitive well written post.  The post was not intended to be about the man but about his theories of looking at a learner's profile, to teach to strengths while boosting weaknesses, and to teaching kids, parents and students to advocate for student needs.  His writings and the work done by Schools Attuned have helped many struggling students.

My apologies.


  1. Thank you for focusing on what others are unable to right now--his work and legacy. He was a brilliant man with a gentle and compassionate soul, and his drive in life was to empower children, their families, and their teachers.

    To avoid detracting from that very important message, I will only make one comment in his defense against the horrible accusations that have been made against him: there is no shortage of cases in which innocent people have been unfairly or inaccurately accused and publicly punished.

    Again, thank you for focusing on his incredibly legacy.

  2. As a physician I was blessed with the inspiration that Mel's refreshing analysis and wit left with me. Years of unmeasured praise and appreciation was transformed amidst controversy into grief and despair at the loss of his presence in this field. I cannot judge as I know nothing of the accusations. But I can testify to his vision, humor, and radical transformative approach to learning and coaching struggling students while at the same time engendering hope, confidence and comprehension in parents and students alike. His otherwise revolutionary accomplishments will hopefully not be lost in a storm of controversy. May his successors be as accomplished and unencumbered.

  3. Where on earth is your sympathy for the hundreds of lives Levine has ruined? It sounds as if you are still in denial.

    Sorry, the North Carolina Medical Board doesn't force doctors to give up their medical licenses without damning evidence.

    Think of the impact of the molestation on these boys. Think of all the boys he has hurt. This far outweighs anything he has done in his professional life.

  4. My understanding of Mel Levine's work was that it was not accepted by mainstream peers, and that there were no studies footnotes etc supporting his ideas, rendering his works self-help books instead of legitimate medical reference material. I can write a self help book too. Further there is no medical indication for examining the genitals of patients with learning disabilities-I am open to changing my mind if you can quote me anything that shows it as SOP. You didnt know the man you thought you knew-that I am willing to believe. You should reconsider your position on his tactics if you are incorporating them into your own care. Just my opinion

  5. It is absolutley standard of practice to do a complete physical exam on every patient you see if you have the time to do so, but there are definitely genetic, neurologic and endocrine syndromes that can impact learning and have manifestations found on exam of the genital region. As for his books, please refer to all of the work done at the Center for Development and Learning at UNC and maybe take a look at them yourself before you decide that he is fomenting evil practices. As for his medical license, he voluntarilty gave it up because he was on the verge of retirement, had not been seeing patients for several years and he wanted to do anything to save the organization, All Kinds of Minds, as he knew these allegations would impact the hundreds of people who worked there and were trying to provide a better learning experience for the thousands of students who would benefit from the Schools Attuned program. Please keep in mind that no criminal charges were ever filed against him and no civil suits have ever gone beyond being filed in a state where there is no penalty for filing lawsuits without supporting evidence. The civil suits submitted by this lawyer against Dr. Levine were all withdrawn (after years of nothing but media attacks), but now he is attempting a class action suit against the hospital, which has much deeper pockets. Just keep in mind, it could be those who have rushed to judgement that are wrong and that is just as bad as the other alternative.

    Thank you, Dr, Jaffe, for posting this in your blog. It was a breath of fresh air to read it.

  6. Life is not simple. Unfortunately while Mel Levine was a visionary he was a very flawed individual. His work has never been accepted in mainstream medicine for one reason- he refused to evaluate his work in a controlled manner. He believed what he was doing was effective and that was the beginning and the end. He couldn't get tenure at Harvard because he didn't or couldn't get his work published in peer reviewed journals and he couldn't obtain grant funding from federal institutes like the NIH because his work was not able to be systematically evaluated. Therefore his books were important and his ideas innovative but not testable. Mel didn't even bother to reference his ideas or statements in his books! Certainly not the standard. Now for the charges from the boys now men who accused him of sexual abuse. First and foremost the standard for a workup for a child with a learning disability does not include a genital exam. Period. Mel knew this and if the case went to court the standard of his colleagues would have been clear - you do NOT routinuely examine the penis or testicles of your patients during the evaluation for a learning disabilty. Also doctors do not give up their medical licenses at age 69 or 70 because they were planning on retiring. In fact patients from all over the world were still flying to North Carolina to get their children evaluated by Mel. If he wasn't guilty than he should not have given up his license to practice medicine. The fact that male patients in North Carolina were making similar complaints as patients from Boston is outrageous. Something was very wrong with Mel's evaluations or with Mel's behavior. His death does not let him off the hook. In fact his death is suspicious and at the end of the day his ideas will be lost if the truith turns out to be that he was a pediaphile. Please note that his long time supporter Charles Swab resigned from the board of All Kinds of Minds and from any affiliation with Mel. Therefore before we send Mel to Heaven let's take a hard look at this very flawed human being.

  7. To Anonymous at February 21, 1:51 pm.
    You have your facts wrong.

    The civil lawsuits from 2008 were SETTLED from 2008. Mel paid out $$$.

    Some of the abuse included masturbation. And No One is buying that he gave up his license voluntarily. He gave up his license because the Medical Board had evidence against him.

    We also know some of Levine's former colleagues from Boston Children's Hospital. They told us two years ago that he had molested the children.

    Levine also falsely stated on his website after he gave up his license that he had gone on to do do seminars in places where he had never done them. His booking agency, Hiram Associates which had already dropped notified him to take the false statements off his website.

    We also spoke to the All Kinds of Minds people after they kicked him out. The mere mention of his name made them turn cold.

    And the statement that he gave up his license because he was about to retire was poor hogwash. Why did he continue to say on his website AFTER he gave up his license that he was still a practicing doctor?

  8. Well, well, well:

    This story out of North Carolina says a dozen victims went to the Medical Board about Levine It also says that they can't sue because the statute of limitations has run out.

    the victims in North Carolina were also represented by a lawyer there. This story says that a dozen victims went to the North Carolina Board about Levine, which resulted in him being forced to surrender his license.

    "For many of those people, he may have also helped them," attorney Elizabeth Kuniholm said. "But, what he did to them has left them with a lifetime - in some cases -devastation and that is the reality."

    Kuniholm represents about a dozen of Levine's former patients in North Carolina. Three years ago, they took their claims the state medical board, forcing Levine to give up his medical license.

    Unlike Levine's former patients in Massachusetts, they cannot sue his estate in the wake of his death.

    "In NC, the statute of limitations is very different than it is in Massachusetts," Kuniholm said. "It is not as forgiving as it is in MA in situations like this where someone may have suffered abuse and molestation as a child."

  9. To Meryl Jaffe, Ph. D:

    You might want to read some of the heartbreaking statements by Levine's victims.

    Here's a sample post:

    Levine Insider says:
    February 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    "A very dear friend’s son was abused by Dr. Levine as a little child. We knew about this creep and his proclivity for little boys for almost 10 years."

  10. The death of Dr. Melvin Levine is a tragedy.

    In Educational Care he wrote: "Needless suffering occurs whenever children grow up disappointing themselves and the adults who care about them...We are describing the plight of children who have difficulty performing highly age-specific roles that are needed to keep pace with the demands imposed in school...This book sets out to diminish that shared confusion, to enable all concerned to construct a better understanding of the reasons for an individual child's exasperating and often futile struggles to keep pace and feel effective."

    Dr. Mel Levine ‘s life work was to support others, to make the lives of children with learning challenges better by helping them and those who worked with them to focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses. His work benefitted thousands of teachers, parents and children.

    As a parent , a teacher and policy maker I hope that his theories and practices continue to benefit children, schools, teachers and families.

  11. From the "Harvard Crimson."

    Levine signed a consent order in 2009 that barred him from ever practicing medicine again after five former north Carolina patients came forward with allegations of abuse, according to Durso.

  12. Dear Anonymous's,

    I thank you for visiting my blog and commenting. I would like to note,however, that my intention was not to discuss the man or the terrible crimes he is accused of. My point was that his theory and the organization that sprang from it has, in fact, helped teachers, parents and students address learning issues and become more competent advocates for student needs.

    While there has no been structured research to support his theory, the concept of all kinds of minds in a classroom that must somehow be met and concretely challenged is a good one that merits further work. It would be a pity to let this die because of one very flawed individual.

    My heart goes out to the boys and their families involved but I KINDLY REQUEST THAT YOUR COMMENTS BE LIMITED TO THE EDUCATIONAL THEORIES OF Schools Attuned AND All Kinds of Minds.


    PLEASE respect this as I will begin eliminating those comments that don't conform to the purpose of this blog.

    Thank you,
    Meryl Jaffe, PhD