The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens
By Murray Bourne, 26 Jun 2005
by Sean Covey
Fireside Books, 1998
A Summary Review
Sean Covey is the son of the (highly successful) Stephen Covey who wrote "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People".
The book suffers somewhat from the "Oprah Syndrome" - it is on occasions rather saccharine and simplistic in that 'we can fix your problem in one page, or on a one-hour TV show', so favoured by many Americans. (He even quotes Oprah here and there).
However, there are some gems in the book, particularly when it comes to advice on educational issues. I would recommend the book for any teenage students since many of them would benefit from the suggestions given. My own 13-year old daughter read it and found it useful.
Some examples of the advice given:
- Reduce "screentime" (defined as anytime spent in front of a computer, TV, video game or movie) (p. 220)
- "Don't let school be your only form of education. Let the world be your campus... Take additional classes, check out books and see movies about the topic [that you don't enjoy]." (p 216).
- "Don't let school get in the way of your education" (p. 219)
The book is peppered with anecdotes, often on themes related to school.. One of these was about the author going to a car maintenance course and achieving an A grade, but admitting that he just rote learned the material and still couldn't fix a car. (p 220)
Another story concerned a boy with an alcoholic father who beat him whenever he caught him reading (p. 227) He ended up hiding in a library and went on to become an editor and author.
He has some interesting things to say (p. 146) about assessment in the story about his college class that had 90 students and it was announced that 9 of them would fail the semester.So he worked hard at not losing, including not sharing ideas with his classmates. [Educational institutions have a lot to answer for...]
Covey tells a striking story in the "Caring for Your Brain" section (p. 216 - and I am paraphrasing). A young man goes to Socrates one day and says "I want to know everything you know". Socrates shoved the young man's head under water of the river until he was gasping for air. The young man complained bitterly and Socrates replied "When you want to learn as badly as you wanted to breathe just now, then come back and see me." [Moral: There is no such thing as a free lunch...]
It seems to me that one of the biggest problems for our students is time management. The book offers some good suggestions on this topic (p. 107). He suggests 4 time quadrants, with not important/important on one axis and urgent/not urgent on the other. He then discusses the 4 types in the quadrants and suggests strategies for dealing with each type:
- The Procrastinator
- The Prioritiser
- The Yes-Man
- The Slacker
This softcover book is recommended for those occasions when you are counselling students who are having a rough time coping with life and school. It would also be good for your own teenage children to read it.
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