by Cherie Carter-Scott, Ph.D.
If High School is a Game, Here's How to Break the Rules
Delacorte Press, April, 2001.
Hardcover, 163 pages.
Ages 12 and up
There's only one problem with If High School is a Game, Here's How to Break the Rules. How does one get it into the hands -- and hopefully the minds -- of teenagers? This excellent guide to high school is written in a down to earth way that does not preach. It very simply lays out the possible consequences of each possible solution to a typical problem, and logically points out the obvious course of action. The author is always on the side of the high school student, and her attitude is clearly focused on the tremendous job that a young person must accomplish in order to take a place in an increasingly complicated world. Wisely, Dr. Carter-Scott went beyond her training in psychology and actually field-tested ideas on teens themselves. Starting with her own daughter, the author branched out by asking teen focus groups what was important to them. One might say that this is a teen-tested book that will be helpful no matter where the young person is.
The author has arranged her book into ten truths which range from Truth #1: Your Body Will Change, to Truth #10: Adolescence is the Tunnel to Your Future. Interspersed throughout each chapter are quotes from people that teens admire. There are quotations from everyone from Bill Gates to Olympic Gold Medalist, Sharon Miller. But the most helpful features of the book are the lists of options for given situations. All possibilities are considered and evaluated without emotion. For instance, the checklist for evaluating something one wants to do begins with "Am I choosing this to please someone?". It ends with "Am I choosing this for my highest goal in the big picture?" Checklists run through chapters one through ten, and the questions will help young people -- who may not have a great deal of life experience or self-knowledge -- focus on their behavior and the consequences of those behaviors. As a matter of fact, self-knowledge will most definitely be one of the results of reading Dr. Carter Scott's book.
Getting the wisdom of If High School Is a Game, Here's How to Break the Rules into the hands and minds of teenagers may be a challenge. Guidance counselors should keep it carefully hidden in a desk drawer, and parents who need coaching in how to respond to situations without eliciting slammed doors and teenage sullenness should no doubt keep their copies hidden. One must hope, however, that the teenagers will find this book first, and keep it carefully hidden from the prying eyes of adults. After all, wouldn't it be fun to outsmart the system and come out serene and confident, thus surprising and impressing everyone? One has to hope that the teenagers find this subversive book first and use it as a formidable weapon for navigating the minefield known as the All American High School.
--Sarah Reaves White
If High School is a Game, Here's How to Break the Rules is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the April, 2001 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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