Book by Debbie Silver
Review by Jill Flees
Advising First Academic Advisor
Florida State University

Fall Down 7 Times, Get up 8: Teaching Kids to Succeed comes at an important time as a generation of students raised on instant gratification and reward systems infiltrate college campuses. Success does not happen overnight and in a world of smart phones, social media and reality television, students expect things to happen immediately. This book acknowledges the pressure placed on educational professionals to promote student success and challenges the reader to evaluate the terminology and tone used when working with a student facing defeat.

As universities explore ways to create programming that meets student expectations and needs, the author delivers a variety of motivational theories, tips and anecdotes thus allowing the reader to identify how they can motivate students to acknowledge their potential despite any obstacles that may be incurred through the educational journey. Covering topics such as autonomy, effective feedback and failure, the author explores how simple interactions can have long-term effects on a person’s motivation development. For instance, when describing effective feedback techniques the author introduces the concept by saying “the most effective feedback does not come in the form of statements but rather questions” (p. 65). Once the foundation for effective feedback is described, the author then follows her recommendations with strategies and examples of both effective and ineffective approaches in hopes that the reader can model these suggestions in their everyday interactions with students.

While the book focuses on a younger demographic of students, it gives insight into curbing and adjusting certain student attitudes and expectations that follow them throughout their academic career. Study skills and class preparation are examples that all advisors can resonate with. Each semester, countless students reach out because they are not succeeding in the classroom. Instead of allowing the student to blame external sources (my teacher was bad, the class was too early, I am a bad test taker), the author suggests educators should be working with students to recognize how their actions impacted the outcomes and assist them in putting a plan in place.

As implied in the title of the book, the main theme is finding ways to push students to get back up again. Teaching transferrable skills is a staple in college development and motivation is no exception. Breaking a large goal down into action items not only makes the student more accountable, but it empowers them to create a set of motivational principles to live by. A major strength of this book is forcing the reader to acknowledge to power of interaction and the importance of not judging a student based on a poor semester or bad decision.

Advisors wishing to enhance their developmental advising skills will definitely find value in this book. While it is not something to be referenced on a regular basis, the reader will be challenged to re-evaluate their approach when working with students facing obstacles. Although the books examples cater to a younger group of students, the lessons are transferrable and will motivate advisors to strive to incorporate new methods of motivation into their repertoire.

Fall Down 7 Times, Get up 8: Teaching Kids to Succeed. (2012). Book by Debbie Silver. Review by Jill Flees. Corwin, 240pp. $33.00, (paperback), ISBN # 978-1-412-99877-2.

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