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Posted On 03-31-2007 12:39 AM
Your Name: andrew lawrence
Email Address: alawrence8@bigpond.com
Organization: Life Long Learning
Location: Queensland Australia
How did you find our site?: Study Course
Comment: The trouble with Alfie Kohn is that he just writes such good sense and it's hard to argue against it. I'm just hoping my Philosophy of Teaching, which to a large extent is based around his ideas don't fail me when i hit the classroom.

Posted On 03-26-2007 11:07 PM
Your Name: Noemi Reynolds
Email Address: noemireynolds@hotmail.com
Location: Western Australia
How did you find our site?: Heard about Alfie Kohn, now reading his books
Comment: Tee hee hee...I have been a subversive teacher for over 20 years now and students know my classroom is a relatively homework free zone (sometimes it's relevant and useful...) and that I won't teach them - I help them facilitate their learning. Big difference. I come under a lot of flack from colleagues for this.

 

My revenge....My son has just graduated from the school in which I teach. His teachers were always complaining to me that he'd never do his homework and would argue points with them. He refused to respect the Social Studies teacher who did not know who Kofi Annan was when they commenced studying the United Nations. I refused to chide him or do anything about it. He graduated with flying colours, is now in the uni course fo his choice (pure Maths)  and is a very happy, well adjusted individual.  Tee hee hee.


Posted On 03-21-2007 10:58 PM
Your Name: Sheryl
Email Address: sherylgeldreich@yahoo.com
Organization: NCNM
Location: Portland, or
Comment: regarding praise and punishment for control....

 

I learned from my daughter's kindergarten teacher how creating community is so important in getting kids to learn and do what you ultimately want them to. One child cried because another child yelled loud next to him (he's very sensitive).  The teacher put her arm around him and had the class look at how upset this child was and Iold them that his ears were sensitive to loud noises.  then she asked THE CHILDREN what could be done.  on their own they suggested using inside voices and only yelling outside (of course there were some funny suggestions such as earplugs!).  the teacher just picked the suggestion she liked and said "let's try it".  So it wasn't a rule where someone was in control and someone was getting shamed.  it was merely a community trying their best to function together.  If someone spilled paint, she wouldn't scold them, just "well we'll have to get the mop and clean it before our next activity". Those kindergartners were mopping, cleaning up tables with sponges..and they were happy to do it because they couldn't wait to sit in a group with the teacher for the next activity.

Unfortunately their first grade teacher was the opposite!  what a difference.  She'd run around trying to control the children to work at the same pace, yell, get flustered, then have them sit in front of a video while she cleaned up the classroom after them...she never had a well functioning learning environment because she didn't guide the kids to make good choices on their own.

When i came home today, there were papers on the floor my daughter had left there yesterday because she had gotten frustrated while making a poster for a teacher's birthday. (i had tried to help her see that it looked fine, offered to help, etc....but she gave up).  i didn't demand that she pick up the rumpled paper, but quietly suggested that it wouldn't be nice for her father to see new paper rumpled on the floor (he had been complaining that all the computer paper was gone for art projects and had to run to the store to buy another ream).  She picked it up--no demanding or threatening on my part.  Also no laying on of guilt! (that was my mom's trick as an alternative to yelling).

We tried a crime and punishment thing that was actually fun for awhile--if someone leaves their shoes in a room, another person gets to hold them ransom for a quarter.  it leveled the playing field (my shoes were hidden many times by my daughter) and was fun, but the results didn't last long.  Now i put my shoes away because i know it bothers my husband to have that kind of clutter--not because i'll lose a quarter.  I have to admit, i didn't like getting punished (even just 25 cents) in my own home, and i'm sure my child doesn't like it either.


Posted On 03-21-2007 4:30 AM
Your Name: Paul Miles
Email Address: yogisimo at hotmail dot com
Organization: independant genius
Location: world
Comment: Seems like all the kids referenced here get it in school and don't need extra pracitice.  What about the large group who don't get it in school?  They are the ones who are shamed into working the homework through.  Some of my sons classmates with the best scores in math never do the homework.  School seems to work for them whether they do the homework or not. 

Posted On 03-20-2007 9:05 PM
Your Name: LG Thib
Email Address: lgthib@aol.com
Organization: Homeschool parent
Location: New Hampshire
How did you find our site?: npr interview
Comment: I'd love to see Mr Kohn do research on homeschooled children.  During our child's kindergarten year in an exclusive private school in Florida, the teacher was often quite upset and snarled that my child "would rather play than do her work".  We decided to try homeschooling rather than taking the risk that our child would lose interest in learning as a result of a negative teaching approach.  We're now in our 4th year of homeschooling and our children are bright, independent, inquisitive and excited about learning.  We work about 6 hours a day, one on one, with no additional night time homework. The children have time for lots of sports, music and extra activities, family time, plenty of sleep and time to just be kids. BTW - they also score consistently in the top end on Stanford tests.

Posted On 03-20-2007 8:11 PM
Your Name: Donavon Price
Email Address: ddprice81@lycos.com
Location: Pheonix, AZ
How did you find our site?: Book
Comment: I just finished reading The Homework Myth and I'm in total agreement that it does little to help children learn.

I've been interested in homework as I'm a soon to minted special education teacher and have seen how homework is assigned in a shotgun approach to everyone regardless of need or ability.   I have seen children with learning disabilities given the same worksheet as one without any challenges and they are both are expected to be done the next day.  Little thought is given to the fact the student with learning problems may take over twice as long to finish the assignment.  When it comes to homework, no one is spared, not even students under an IEP unless a parent protests and writes it into the document, which quickly marks them as trouble makers.

I became more interested in homework as my son who is in second grade has been receiving mostly math homework since first grade about 3 to 4 times a week, which I feel is excessive.  The final straw came when my son was shamed in class for not doing his homework by the withholding of the class wide snack.  What made this even more disturbing was I had sent a not to the teacher that my son would do it later.  I did resolve the issue about punishing my son for not doing his homework, but he is still required to do homework.  Unfortunately, it’s going to take a great deal of effort to stop this engrained system.

In my mind, homework is just educational inflation.  Kids are required to do more work but get less of an education.  Thankfully, Mr. Kohn is at least one voice in the wilderness that is helping to bring light to this problem.


Posted On 03-19-2007 1:52 PM
Your Name: Sue
Comment: Thank you for the great work! We have so many experiences regarding the topic of invasion of family time and homework.

 

My son taught himself to read at the age of 2. He has read at least a book a day for years. He went to private school for grades 1 and 2. When we put him in public school in 3rd, he found he had no more time to read books! He was so tired from the day at school, then meaningless worksheets at night of things he had taught himself years before, he became disheartened. Then, he had to start logging how many minutes a day he read, and we had to sign it for the teacher to "approve"! So, they took something my son loved, and made it into a chore, and invaded our family privacy by trying to keep track of what we did IN OUR OWN HOME! He read less and less. His spark and love of learning new things was quickly vanishing.

To try to reignite his love of learning, I asked the teacher what subjects they would be covering in class, so that he could cover them deeper at home. We would go on field trips, watch movies and read books about those subjects. The teachers refused to tell me because they said my son already made the other kids feel bad because he knew so much.

Then, our school system has 1 day per year where they have no homework. We received a note home that recommended we spent this day with family time! I was so offended that they were taking away our family time and then giving us permission to have it for one day.

The moral of the story? We homeschool now. My son loves learning and reading again! We have been homeschooling for 5 years and I am still amazed that other parents encourage or support the public schools invasion of their private lives.


Posted On 03-15-2007 9:07 PM
Your Name: Deanna Altman
Email Address: altmans@cox.net
Organization: nurse, mom of 5
Location: Nebraska
How did you find our site?: web research on homework and honor students
Comment: Question: If you weigh yourself while standing on a scale, and then lift one of your legs, is  your weight (on one leg) more, less or the same as when standing on two legs?  According to my son's Honors Physical Science teacher, the weight is less "because you don't have gravity pulling" on the raised leg.  No lie.  And to top it off, she refused to listen to his argument or accept the detailed proof that he offered to the contrary. That was last semester and, needless to say, our son still has little respect for her as a teacher.  She has assigned literally FOUR TIMES the amount of homework as his other Honors teachers.  It may be no surprise that he has a 73% in the class, even though his test average is 96%.  School officials have offered him very little besides "you need to prove you can do the work" and "you're going to come across people/situations/work in life that you don't like but you have to deal with it anyway".   I am dealing with a teenager that is very disallusioned with our school system and we have 2 years to go...

Thank you for leading a seemingly lone cause on behalf of kids everywhere, including mine.

Posted On 03-15-2007 2:49 PM
Your Name: Jodi Berger
Email Address: horsehockey99@yahoo.com
Organization: Avondale High School
Location: Auburn Hills, MI
How did you find our site?: MCTE conference
Comment: Help! We just gave two terrible days of testing--the ACT and the Michigan Merit Exam. 95% of our juniors had to take it, like everybody fits into the same mold!? Outrageous. Michigan teachers unite against "the test" and let's look to Alfie Kohn for inspiration. What should we do now?

Posted On 03-15-2007 6:54 AM
Your Name: Sabine Moulin
Email Address: samoulin@wanadoo.fr
Location: France
How did you find our site?: Marshall Rosenberg's Non violent communication
Comment: I wish your book would be translated into French, as are Marshall Rosenberg's and Thomas Gordon's.
Thanks for explaining so well what I have felt intuitively is right for years about competition, punishment and reward and s.o., as well as contributing to help me find an alternative parenting style beyond authority and permissivness.  I am looking to hearing from you in the French medias!...

Posted On 03-15-2007 5:34 AM
Your Name: FRANK L. MILLER
Email Address: flmiller9@hotmail.com
Organization: Lake Forest School District
Location: Felton Delaware
How did you find our site?: Forward from colleague
Comment: Free samples. Everyone knows how they operate, give someone a taste and if they like the product they pay for the larger supply, it's the American way. So it can be said that reading, if given a taste, can lead to a genuine interest and a demand for a larger supply. As an educator and school psychologist I can attest to the big draw of the Pizza Hut aside from their desire for pizza, a staple in every child's life alongside hotdogs, candy bars, potato chips and other tasty treats. That draw is competition, who can read the most books, I see it every year. The coupon is really just another ribbon or star for the most part, and the pizza? Well if it brings a family together around a table for dinner, what's the harm in that. I'm all for a balanced diet with a healthy share of fruits and vegetables, but no pizza? AK...bah humbug!

Posted On 03-13-2007 3:53 PM
Your Name: Tim Sully
Email Address: sullyta@mac.com
Organization: Teacher and Learning Adviser
Location: North somerset U.K.
How did you find our site?: Google
Comment: I thought readers of this guestbook would like to know how things are in the U.K. This article appeared in the Sunday Times on 11-03-07. It is in the Education column entitled 'Questions for Chris Woodhead'. For those who don't know, Chris Woodhead was Chief Inspector of Schools and Adviser to Tony Blair and before him, the Tory government. He now runs his own company of privately owned schools. "The fee paying school that my son attends has always sent reports with marks for the entire class. The new headmaster tells us that this falls foul of the data protection act and might be distressing for boys who come bottom in a subject. Why are football league tables not made illegal to spare the feelings of West Ham fans?" To which Mr Woodhead replies: "Jack Rabinowicz, an education lawyer, tells me that your new headteacher is right about the data protection act. You could, of course, get other parents to agree to the publication of this information. The head's wet attitude to competition makes me think he might be better off running a state school." If you think you have problems!

Posted On 03-07-2007 9:07 AM
Your Name: L. Murphy
Email Address: lmurphy@skidmore.edu
Location: USA
How did you find our site?: Marshll Rosenberg's Non Violent Communication
Comment:

As a fifth-grader 20 years ago, I was offered the "Book it " program as part of  " A Reading Race," for every book report completed your racer advanced one space on the giant wall chart.  I am happy to report that my racer abandon the race after the required 3-reports as I enjoyed reading so much that I did not want to stop and write  mind-numbing book reports.  My teacher noted my lack of progress on my report card.   

 

Until today, I thought something was wrong with me that I did not complete book reports on all the books I read and blame the fact that I was never given the opportunity to redeem the only "Book It" reward I earned for the mandatory 3 book reports.  Now I know that the "Book It" and the "Race for Reading " were an insult to my love for reading.  Thank you.


Posted On 03-06-2007 10:11 AM
Your Name: D. Webb
Comment:

I was very interested to read about the CCFC campaign against Book It in today's newpaper, having written about the same appalling situation 16 years ago when my niece and nephew were being plied with fast food coupons at their grade school. For what's its worth, both are now young adults, are considerably overweight and rarely read anything more challenging than video game packaging or a DVD case. So much for Pizza Hut's literacy program.

 

 http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/1991-12-04/news/the-pepperoni-chasea-slice-of-life-tale-of-consumerism-in-the-classroom/


Posted On 03-06-2007 9:21 AM
Your Name: John N. Russell
Email Address: conniecrawford@sbcglobal.net
Organization: NEA
Location: El Paso, TX
How did you find our site?: inside cover of \
Comment: I am a huge admirer of your work.  Without gushing, I have to say that when I first began reading your stuff, it was as though a friendly hand had patted me on the back, and a voice said, "You're on the right track, John".  I recently quit a teaching job.  The immediate reason being that a fundamentalist christian parent objected to my ideas of what constitutes teaching.  She wanted me to concentrate on test scores, content, and the scope and sequence.  With our principal's blessing I was to report to her any and all work being done by her daughter in my class.  We do art, discussions, research, thinking, creating, and writing, plus a lot of real life talk.  I'm not too organized and I don't emphasize grades, so I was an easy target for the mom, who happened to also be a curriculum "specialist" for the district.  She was the last straw for me.  For the previous year and a half our school has been under the domination of a principal whose managerial model is Wal-Mart (his words).  It's all about rigor, data, and pulling up those test scores.  To make matters worse we are the guinnea pigs in one of those Bill Gates grants, which is being managed by an outfit called High Schools That Work.  It was supposed to be teacher empowering, but that has been proven manifestly false.  I could put up with all of that, and, in fact, a group of us teachers, twelve to be exact, filed a class action grievance through our union (NEA), citing loss of duty free lunch times and an extremely hostile working environment, which made us all feel less vicitimized and more powerful.  There was a lot of retaliation and bullying of the grievants, but we hung in there.  Then this maniac mother came into the picture, and that was all I could take.  So, I quit.  The irony is that one week later an arbitrator for our grievance ruled in our favor, on all points.  The superintendent, and the principal were forced to apologize for the past year and a half of hell, and, yes, things got better on campus...a week after I quit.  I'm still a part of the grievance and we are going for back pay for all those meetings we were forced to have during our duty free lunch periods.  The union local offered me a part time job as an organiser, so, who knows, this might not end up so badly, after all.  But the bitch of it is that I miss my kids and my friends at work fiercely, and those bastards in admin only responded to coercion and not out of a sense of justice or decency.  I hate what they did to me and so many others at our school.  We have a right to respect and they gave us not one ounce of it.  But, as they say, "Time wounds all heals". 

 

Keep up the good work, Alfie.  You rock!!!


Posted On 03-06-2007 8:53 AM
Your Name: Barb Fibich
Location: Middleton, WI
Comment: I was heartened to hear that your organization is coming out against the Pizza Hut reading program.  We have never allowed our children to participate in this program and have used it as an opportunity to educate them about  how corporations use children to sell their products.  There is another program that I find just as offensive and much more costly to families.  It is the Six Flags Reading Program.  My concern is the way this program is marketed to the kids and then it is left to the parents to be the evil naysayers.  I hate that these hugely profitable companies can use our kids to make even more money and somehow manage to look as if they are doing something charitable in the process.  I hate even more that our schools don't stand up to it.

Posted On 03-04-2007 8:43 PM
Your Name: Royal Davis
Email Address: phazon@gmail.com
Organization: Student - University of South Florida
Location: Lithia, FL
How did you find our site?: Google search
Comment: As a student who grew up on Pizza Hut's Book It! program, I find your denouncement of this program distressing as best. If it weren't for incentive programs like Book It! and a program through my school that gave out Six Flags ticket, I wouldn't have become an avid reader like I am today. Such programs can hardly be seen as detrimental, it is simply up to the parents to set the limits. My parents didn't let me read Dr. Seuss for my reading credits, they let me pick out books that might actually challenge me. So, at a kindergarten level, I was picking up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and other childhood favourites. And now, I'm reading personal favourites by authors like Nabokov, Kafka, Pynchon, and others. And I personally have no problems saying that Book It! is the cause of my love for reading. One personal pan pizza a month isn't going to kill anyone.

Posted On 03-04-2007 4:58 PM
Your Name: James D. Morton
Organization: Fatherhood
Location: Idaho
How did you find our site?: Google
Comment: I am very disappointed in your  views on the Pizza Hut book it program. After reading the postings on this site I feel vindicated in my stance.

Posted On 03-04-2007 12:09 PM
Your Name: Michele
Email Address: donford4@comcast.net
Location: Salem, Oregon
How did you find our site?: Susan Ohanian's site
Comment: I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to read your work and hear you speak.  I am an elementary teacher who just got the mandate to not allow my students to read chapter books during reading time.  Nor can they read silently in their heads.  All reading is focused on oral fluency, which, of course, is rarely used outside of school.  Sometimes I feel as though I've landed in the Twilight Zone.  Thank goodness there's people out there, such as yourself, who still have common sense!

Posted On 03-03-2007 12:32 PM
Your Name: Adam Poller
Email Address: adam.poller@case.edu
Location: Middletown, NJ
How did you find our site?: Searched your name after reading an article in reference to the book-it program
Comment:

I was deeply saddened by your criticism of the Pizza Hut "book-it" reading program.  Growing up in a world of video games, television, and other distractions I never had a love for reading.  Through the use of this program my elementary school teachers had a great motivational tool that sparked my interest in reading books about science and history.  In addition to this, the three or four times a year I visited a Pizza Hut restaurant with my family promoted communication and family time.  I currently am a doctoral student and continue my love of reading even to this day.  I encourage you to see the optimistic side of this program and stop trying to deconstruct a wonderful literacy promotion tool.  Taking your child to Pizza Hut one or two times a year as a reward for reading will NOT tear apart the fabric of society, is NOT the primary cause for obesity in this country, and may even foster a life long love of reading!


Posted On 03-03-2007 11:23 AM
Your Name: M. Enser
Location: New York
How did you find our site?: CNN
Comment: First thing I wanted to comment on was your homework myth; the purpose of homework is to provide time for individual practice on the days lesson, there is no time during the lesson for numerous examples.  Homework is needed, and we all survived it.  Secondly, your attack of the Pizza Hut Book-It program mystifies me..why do small minded people keep wanting to discourage reading, this program makes it goal oriented and in my case helps develop a lifelong love of reading.  It is up to the parents to control obesity, i would like to see your research linking this program and obesity.  There are numerous other problems with our school systems, you should not attack something that works.

Posted On 03-03-2007 8:57 AM
Your Name: Diana
Location: Home
How did you find our site?: Google search
Comment: If I had known of Alfie Kohn's beliefs and books, I might have had the strength to continue teaching.  As it was, I felt alone and dismissed when I criticized reward programs that over-inflated self-esteem (what a dangerous thing to do!) and promoted easy, externally-motivated paths of behavior.  I can't go back to teaching, but I can and do hope that Mr. Kohn's work reaches enough people to make the changes I believe are absolutely necessary if education is to improve.

Posted On 03-03-2007 2:22 AM
Your Name: Brian & Julia Hensley
Email Address: bayoubrigh@yahoo.com
Location: RAF Alconbury, England
How did you find our site?: google search
Comment: As parents of two girls beginning to read, anything to continue that trait should be encouraged, not discouraged. The Pizza Hut program is not mandatory, but voluntary and the rewards amount to an individual pizza roughly every month. If the parents believe that is too much, then don't allow the child to eat the whole pizza.

 

If the corporate sponsorship is the troubling issue, then ask the state/federal government to put education as a budget priority. Our public school just had it's budget cut to 1/5th the previous year. Coprorate sponsorship is present in the drink machines, clothes the students wear, supplies they buy, equipment in the classroom, reports they write about and the rest of their world once they step out of the classroom. Until some other agency steps up to supplies these items singling out a program as the basis of our problems is a simplified ignorant view of the problem in our education system.

Brian and Maj. Julia Hensley


Posted On 03-02-2007 9:22 PM
Your Name: shawn ross
Email Address: rsaeross@yahoo.com
Location: maysville, Ky, USA
How did you find our site?: Alfie Kohn's books
Comment: Pizza Hut's Book It program criticized.  Check out Yahoo news.  Score another hit for Alfie!  Could we possibly be on the path to enlightenment?

Posted On 03-02-2007 6:39 PM
Your Name: Noemi Reynolds
Email Address: noemi.reynolds@det.wa.edu.au
Location: Western Australia
How did you find our site?: Newspaper article
Comment:

Having read an article based on your Homework Myth book I am eager to purchase a copy and am in the process of doing so. I am a Maths teacher in Western Australia and have been fairly anti the whole routine homework worksheet for, like, ever.  Having just entered 'Homework' into a search engine I noticed just how many commercially produced books feed into parents fear for their children. Homework, it seems, is big business. And that business interest, surely, must have some influence on those damned standardised tests. Perhaps a two fold approach is needed. Educate the parents and fight those businesses. The sad thing is this. We do rather better than the on international studies in Maths and Science – TIMSS and PISA – but because has held its position in the most recent testing whilst a few other countries have improved theirs over us, conservative politicians are ranting that we are doing poorly – slipping, even – and must change how we educate our kids. And the change they propose? To mimic the model with standardised testing and outdated teaching methodologies. And that’s clearly the right thing to do because our prime minister has his head so far…..sorry – there was going to be a rude comment about John Howard and your president but I won’t go there. The reality is that generally US does do as well as in international testing (by the way – the PISA testing really examines how well kids think – now there’s an idea!). Why the pollies won’t listen when we say look at the countries that do really well – Finland, Netherlands, Japan, Korea, Belgium and a few surprising others – to see what they do. It certainly is not about pouring Mathematical algorithms into empty heads. That’s what they do in which ranks at or near the bottom in both studies. I have spent time working in and that’s what they do there too. Standardised testing, absolute good behaviour and co-operation from children, loads of homework, teacher driven algorithms all lead to also doing very badly in international studies.

Anyway, on we fight trying to spread the message of doing it differently. I presented a paper at the July ‘06 Psychology of Mathematics Education conference in Prague on the radical approach I employ in my classes and I suspect that what I read of your work will validate my work. I look forward to reading your works.


 

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