What is most remarkable
about the assortment of discipline programs on the
market today is the number of fundamental assumptions
they seem to share. Some may advocate the use of carrots
rather than sticks; some may refer to punishments as
"logical consequences." But virtually all take for
granted that the teacher must be in control of the
classroom, and that what we need are strategies to get
students to comply with the adult's expectations.
Alfie Kohn challenged these
widely accepted premises, and with them the very idea of
classroom "management," when the original edition of Beyond Discipline
was published in 1996. Since then, his path-breaking book has invited
hundreds of thousands of educators to question the assumption that problems
in the classroom are always the fault of students who don’t do what they’re
told; instead, it may be necessary to reconsider what it is that they’ve been
told to do - or to learn. Kohn shows how a fundamentally cynical view of
children underlies the belief that we must tell them exactly how we expect
them to behave and then offer "positive reinforcement" when they obey.
Just as memorizing someone
else's right answers fails to promote students'
intellectual development, so does complying with someone
else's expectations for how to act fail to help students
develop socially or morally. Kohn contrasts the idea of
discipline, in which things are done to students to
control their behavior, with an approach in which we work
with students to create caring communities where
decisions are made together.
Beyond Discipline has earned the
status of an education classic, a vital alternative to all the
traditional manuals that consist of techniques for imposing control. For this
10th anniversary edition, Kohn adds a new afterword that expands on the
book’s central themes and responds to questions from readers. Packed with
stories from real classrooms around the country, seasoned with humor
and grounded in a vision as practical as it is
optimistic, Beyond Discipline shows how students are most likely
to flourish in schools that have moved toward
collaborative problem solving - and beyond discipline.
HERE to listen to an interview with Kohn about the revised edition of the book.