The History of the 7 Habits

The 7 Habits were originally published as “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey.  The book’s tag-line is “Powerful lessons in personal change”.  The book’s blurb says “Covey presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, service, and human dignity–principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.”  This book is a self-help book intended for adults.

“The 7 Habits of Happy Kids” was written by Sean Covey, Stephen Covey’s son.  Sean Covey works for FranklinCovey.  According to their website, “FranklinCovey is a global company specializing in performance improvement. We help organizations achieve results that require a change in human behavior.”

FranklinCovey decided to create a curriculum for schools by re-writing “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” in the form of stories for children, and creating workbooks for every grade level K-5, posters, and teacher guides (also K-5).  The company sells this curriculum to schools, along with teacher training programs, and paid speakers. The lucrative program costs $50,000+.

The Leader in Me wasn’t created by specialists in children’s education, or by behavioral psychologists. Sean Covey has a degree in English and an MBA from Harvard. FranklinCovey is a corporation that caters to other corporations. This was a very strange beginning for a deep, values-based, behavioral curriculum for K-5 elementary schools.

Curriculum Should Be Created by Educators

The Leader in Me was not created by educators.  Stephen Covey has a B.S in business administration, an MBA from Harvard, and a Doctor of Religious Education from Brigham Young University.  Sean Covey has a degree in English, and an MBA from Harvard.  FranklinCovey is a corporation that serves other corporations.

Here’s a list of their open positions at FranklinCovey.  There are no teachers or educators on that list.

On The Leader in Me website, there is no list of a team of teachers, principals, educators, psychologists, or behavioral specialists who worked on creating the LIM curriculum. There’s very little information at all about how the material was created, and none at all about how it was vetted.

As a result, the materials schools get when they purchase this expensive ($50,000+) curriculum is sub-par.  As an example, here is a snippet from the Teacher’s Guide for Kindergarten for the 6th Habit:

Habit 6: Synergize®

In this section, students will:

  1. Express and present information and ideas clearly in oral, visual, and written forms.
  2. Use their own unique talents and abilities to the fullest; value others’ talents and abilities.
  3. Cultivate the ability to inspire, motivate, and draw out the best in others.
  4. Communicate and work as a team in a multicultural and interdependent world.
  5. Show initiative and entrepreneurialism.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone with daily experience with 5-year-olds would expect them to “present information and ideas clearly in oral, visual, and written forms”.  I volunteer in a kindergarten classroom weekly. When they raise their hand, it takes them 3-4 tries to get out a sentence, and even then it may or may not make sens.  The majority of them have trouble writing all their letters, much less a sentence.  They definitely aren’t in a place where they can communicate information and ideas in written form.  And nothing about the LIM program is going to magically make them be suddenly able to do these things. They need to practice with a pencil and paper, not practice synergizing.  As for showing entrepreneurialism – they’re 5.  They can’t tell a nickel from a quarter, and are likely to accept 3 pennies in place of 1 dime because they’ve finally, this year, figured out that 3 is bigger than 1. Entrepreneurs?

Also in this same guide is a suggested music activity for teaching kids about Habit #1: Be Proactive.

Sing the song Itsy Bitsy Spider using the hand motions. Say, “The itsy bitsy spider was a leader; she took initiative to get to the top of the water spout. The itsy bitsy spider chose not to blame the rain; she stayed with her task.” Ask, “What did you learn about being proactive from the itsy bitsy spider? What did you learn from Sammy  Squirrel?” Use a Fishbone Diagram to chart the ideas.

This example isn’t even about being proactive.  It’s about perseverance. This material is poor, and makes you wonder who would create this for a teacher to use?

The kids at our school DID get confused by these strange examples. A first grader at our school came home one day saying that dogs are better animals than cats, because cats sleep all day, which isn’t being proactive.  Another child said that she’s not as much of a leader as her friend, because her friend likes to color, and do math, and chase the boys around the playground. That means she’s good at Sharpening the Saw (Habit #8).  But the girl telling the story said she doesn’t like chasing boys around the playground, so she’s not as good a leader.