By Edward M. Hallowell Reagan Books, 2004 Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Oct 4th 2004
A Walk in the Rain with a Brain might
be thought of as a young child's picture book equivalent of Mel Levine's A
Mind at a Time and The Myth of Laziness. Both share the message that
judging children in terms of their success on standard tests is harmful and
each child has his or her own strengths that should be cherished and nurtured.
As Fred the brain says, "Everyone's smart! You just need to find out at
what!" It is a positive message and it might help some young children.
It is especially aimed at children diagnosed with learning disorders and
behavioral problems that disrupt their ability to study, such as attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder. At the end of the book, there is a guide for
parents and teachers on how to discuss these issues with children.
computer-generated graphics are somewhat crude and may leave children
unimpressed. More problematic is the story, which tells what happens when a
brain named Complain created the word "smart" so that he would seem
better than all the other brains. It gives a constructionist understanding of
testing as no more than an attempt to privilege some people over others,
without demarcating any really important abilities. If the book succeeds in
reducing anxiety over tests, it might be helpful. However, if it stops
children from caring about those tests it may ultimately do more harm than
good, because whether or not we like it, tests are very often used to determine
children's abilities, and doing well at them can open opportunities to children
that other children do not get. So parents and teachers should look through
this book carefully before deciding whether it is likely to be helpful.
Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities
Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at DowlingCollege, Long Island. He is also
editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on
philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.