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Posted On 04-12-2014 7:37 PM
Your Name: Kim Moraes
Email Address:
Location: Agoura Hills, CA
How did you find our site?: My brother
Comment: I just read your article, How to Create Non-Readers. It made me think of elementary school. I remember being in 6th grade at La Fiesta in Rohnert Park and being expected to log reading time into a journal. I never did it right. The fact is, I read so much longer than 20 minutes a day, but I would often do it in 10-minute increments. Logging the time was drudgery. When it came to the end of the week and it appeared that I had not completed my required reading, some kids actually teased me about it. It pissed me off and hurt my feelings all at the same time.

Thank you for the article, by-the-way. I homeschool my son, and it taught me many new concepts and reinforced much of what I already felt. Now if I can just get my husband on board...

Posted On 04-01-2014 2:15 PM
Your Name: GMChalykoff
Email Address:
How did you find our site?: WBUR
Comment: Heard you on WBUR. Did you know that most all professions do not have sufficient research to back up interventions and practices?  Medicine with its 20 year history of evidence based practice still does not know how aspirin works. You gave the excuse of " no research" for every parenting behavior with which you disagree. Where is the research that backs up your ideas? Until  you have it, please refrain for using this excuse...

Posted On 04-01-2014 10:14 AM
Your Name: dori
Email Address:
Location: vancouver, bc canada
How did you find our site?: googled it!
Comment: thank you so much for your books. what you say is so important. i wish more people knew of your work.

Posted On 03-24-2014 8:59 AM
Your Name: andrew
Comment: it's good to critique dominant narratives. grand narratives tell us that boys are wild and girls are not scientists. they tell us that the poor are lazy and the wealthy are industrious. at best, larger narratives reduce and simplify complicated and nuanced ideas. at worst, they promote harmful ideas that injure us and everyone around us. there are no broad and clear solutions - not in life and not in education. systemic influences and systemic problems weigh heavily on academic and professional achievement - more heavily than other variables in context, including teacher effectiveness or .... grit. many critiques of Angela duckworth's research focus on grit argue that class realities severely limit academic achievement in high poverty schools. i agree! but detractors also often conflate larger marxist challenges with small foucauldian solutions. in full disclosure, i am a adjunct professor in education at a prestigious college of education. i complete research on education theory and practice, and i currently lead a study into reading grit, "reading grit: can passion and perseverance help improve reading proficiency?" i want to argue that grit is a path away from standardized educational reforms. instead, grit may offer teachers and students a framework to improve achievement and learning from any original position. teachers can promote important characteristics that transcend narrow skill instruction. kohn makes a subtle (but egregious) sleight of hand early in his critique. grit is decidedly different from self control in scholarly research. in fact, in her original research, duckworth explores early interest in self control research - and her subsequent disappointment. self-control (like self-esteem) simply does not hold the promise that early researchers believed. it may even be harmful, as kohn notes. grit is defined as passion and perseverance towards long term goals. in common use, there may be slide or play in the definitions of academic terms. however, common usage has loose and dynamic boundaries that research works to avoid. scholarly definitions are often very precise to help focus research analysis and evaluation. this isn't without it's problems, of course, but it does mean that kohn's move towards self control and self discipline is willfully unfair and dangerously dishonest

Posted On 03-15-2014 4:24 PM
Your Name: Teacher in Regina sk
Email Address:
Organization: Regina public schools
Location: Regina Saskatchewan
How did you find our site?: Was at teacher convention when u blew my mind
Comment: Thank you for your words at our recent convention. You confirmed many things that I have always thought. I chuckle to think of the staff meeting that were called to speak about how we need to get our reading and math scores up and how we are not doing as well as the other "core" schools. Everything u said we are doing in our classrooms. Including teaching the test. You also touched on how right wing our curriculum is and the outcomes and indicators. Could you please expand on this. I am a few years from retirement and I would love to change the trend. Also what do you think about value added Assesment

Posted On 03-15-2014 1:17 PM
Your Name: Amy Walker
Email Address:
Organization: None
Location: Illinois
How did you find our site?: Frequent reader
Comment: I would love it if you'd do an article on how students with disabilities fare in this hypercompetitive, testing-based system of schooling. In the "Race to the Top", are they being left on the bottom?

Posted On 03-10-2014 9:01 AM
Your Name: Heather
Email Address:
Location: United States
Comment: I have been on quite the journey since picking up a copy of Unconditional Parenting. I started reading it (I have a two-year-old son, which explains a lot) at the same time I began a college course titled Management Strategies for the Elementary Classroom. Reading Kohn's work alongside of my course readings has really forced me to look deeply at how I view my own child and children in general and how society views them and treats them. So pleased with Unconditional Parenting, I have recently been reading Kohn's education-related articles on his website and I just finished Beyond Discipline. In a few short weeks, I have gone from asking, "How am I supposed to manage my son (or students) if I can't do this or that" to realizing my job is not to manage or control my son or my future students. Although discipline strategies akin to assertive discipline have always left me with a bad taste in my mouth, I just wasn't aware of the alternatives. Kohn's ideas about schools and education speak to the idealist in me. When reading his books, I can envision my perfect classroom of wonderfully challenging student learners. In addition to questioning age-old child discipline strategies, I am now also asking, "Do we need grades, standardized tests and even standards?" Thank you Alfie Kohn for asking the tough questions and making readers really think. I will definitely now be a better parent and a better teach after reading your work.

Posted On 02-22-2014 3:33 PM
Your Name: Anonymous
Location: USA
How did you find our site?: author bio section of No Contest
Comment: Hey all

I'm a junior in high school. My school has a small library, and in it I one day found a copy of No Contest. It looked interesting so I began to read it regularly, sometimes during free periods and sometimes after school depending on when I had free time. It took a couple of months to get through the whole book and I just finished a couple days ago.

I already pretty much agreed with No Contest about the harmfulness of competition, but, as described in the book (particularly in the chapter about cheating), I had been one of those people who thought that competition was only bad when it was excessive. Since reading I have, of course, become convinced that competition is always excessive. The arguments of the book were very strong and I was impressed with the amount of psychological data cited. I also took note of some other books mentioned in No Contest (such as "The Pursuit of Loneliness" and "Injustice for All") and I look forward to reading them at some point in the future.

I also looked around online for refutations of the book, and of the idea of the inadequacy of competition in general. Nothing I have found really talked about or cited actual psychology, and most of the arguments for competition that I did find online have been in the context of trying to encourage certain behaviors, which as anyone who read No Contest would know (or anyone who knows anything about psychology), competition is actually terrible for encouraging any behavior, because it is an external motivator.

Furthermore, it seems like most of the people who defend structural competition also tend to be people who are very cynical and pessimistic of human nature, and who unimaginatively assume that the human condition will never improve, despite thousands of years of what I would say has been continual, slow progress. As discussed in the book, competition is often regarded, wrongly, as an inevitable part of human nature and social interaction.

I have though about this while I was reading, and one thing that the book mentioned but didn't really talk about at length (which is ok because it's kind of outside the scope of the book) is that competition's primary function is as a means of social control. That is, it is used to establish and maintain hierarchies. I think that the people mentioned above feel insecure of themselves, and are disturbed by the idea of true egalitarianism and cooperation between individuals. They are very much accustomed to hierarchy, and don't want to live without it.

I plan to go college. I really genuinely do want to go to college (even before reading the book, I knew that most people just do it because it's expected of them, their parents want them to, they think it is necessary in order to have a decent life, etc), and I will try to always keep in mind that it doesn't matter how I compare to others there, I ought to be after wisdom and practical knowledge, not "academic achievement" or titles... [edited for length]

Posted On 02-20-2014 8:40 PM
Your Name: Jeff Treistman
Email Address:
Organization: Seattle Public Schools
Location: United States
How did you find our site?: books - google search
Comment: Reading Alfie Kohn has been a great hardship for me because almost every word adds fuel to my engine of understanding that just about everything at the school where I work as a teacher/librarian is completely wrong. Actually, the situation is not completely dire. There are some positives, but I sense that you might agree with my feeling that “accentuating the positive” leaves an awful lot to sweep under the carpet. There simply isn't enough good stuff going on, not nearly enough and despite the occasional positive good initiative, we are doing at least as much to harm our students as we are doing to help them. The “good” initiatives are the result of a hit or miss strategy and the ones that hit tend to blind the administration to all the the harm done by the misses. This engine of understanding of mine, currently being fueled by your and other similar writers’ work today, was built over a rather long period: 10 years of public schooling, two final years of high school at the progressive Cambridge School of Weston, four years in the unique educational atmosphere of Yellow Springs, Ohio and Antioch College, 23 years in the food and wine business in Seattle, another couple of years gaining my MA Ed and teaching certificate at Antioch University Seattle, teaching in Seattle Public Schools for 10 years now, 5 years as the school librarian; in other words through lots of work and study. With it I face an education system with monumental problems. My personality type takes this understanding and compels me to recognize and want to fix problems. This gets me into trouble because not only are most people unaware of most of the problems, when pointed out they take it personally and want to kill the messenger. So far I’ve managed to avoid this kind of death. I’ve done this by networking and trying to connect with like-minded people wherever they are. I have found them in my professional organization, the Washington Library Media Association and my union and through social media. This beast called ed reform is enormous. Educators are in a David and Goliath situation. We need to coalesce our secret weapon and create a strategic sling shot to dispatch the beast. How do we do that?

Posted On 01-29-2014 7:11 AM
Your Name: Tracy Hanson
Email Address:
Organization: Next Generation Global Education
Location: Globally
How did you find our site?: Search after hearing Alfie talk on NPR
Comment: "Report cards were sent out recently and their issuance always serve as a reminder of the following situation from a couple of years ago and how destructive grades can be to a kid's motivation. " This article took me back to my first year of teaching, 1979, and with it all the pain, anger and frustrations I felt then blistered up once more. The title of the blog is, "Why Are You Crying? Your Grades?" Reflection: My first year of teaching. I had a multi-grade 1-3. A wonderful group that came together more as a family then a class. Two boys in the grade that found reading very, very HARD! Just after Christmas break, the light bulbs went on and they began to put things together. At "level"? No. But excited and happy about what they were doing. No doubt they would be on or above "level" next year. April hits - the Iowa Basic Skills test time (Yup, that's what they were back then.) Directions are read to the students: "It should take about 20–30 minutes to read the passages in this book and answer the 6 questions in the Answer Section. " You may begin. To us, it seemed like a simple reading passage but to those boys, motivated and excited, it was "the kiss of death". They sat there for 20 long minutes silently crying (so as not to disturb the others). All efforts to help them regain confidence that year failed. I cry with them as I continue to cry for our children. Whether it's grades or standard tests, we drain the excitement and motivation out of our children. We have to stop putting them up to a systems yard stick. Let them draw their own lines on the wall.

Posted On 01-27-2014 1:45 PM
Your Name: hal
Email Address: hal(AT)
Organization: Adult Education Instructor
Location: NW Arkansas
How did you find our site?: Google / Alfie\'s books
Comment: I first read Kohn's "No Contest" while taking Ed Psych in grad school in 1993. The concepts have niggled at my mind ever since. I've been an adult educator now for nearly 20 years and now Alfie comes at me again. When the student is ready the teacher appears. January 2014 has heralded the new GED exam which is based on the CCS. The GED is much, much harder and more thorough than the 2002 version. There is math in three of the four sections. It's on computer and requires basic computer skills including some keyboarding. As an educator I work with students who never completed HS. Many were wounded (figuratively speaking) by the school system or who had other personal concerns (family situations, LD, etc.) that caused them to drop out. Alfie's wisdom will help me to become a better "facilitator" to my students. You Alfie, and Sir Ken Robinson ( videos), have caused me to think anew and you've twiddled my paradigms. I can't thank you enough. I somehow survived public schools and a two state universities! I just wish I had been aware 40+ years ago.

Posted On 01-22-2014 5:32 PM
Your Name: Michelle Johns
Email Address:
Location: USA
How did you find our site?: BadassTeachersAssociation on FB
Comment: Hello. I just wanted you to know that I have recently discovered some excellent articles that you have written regarding testing and the common core standards. Thank you so much for your enlightened words. It is a comfort to know that educated people have actually written about these subjects! If you have not done so already, please check out or our FB page BadassTeachersAssociation. Your articles are being shared there. We are a group of over 36,000 who believe that the Common Core with his excessive testing is hurting education professionals and our students. Best wishes.

Posted On 12-29-2013 4:48 PM
Your Name: Arne J Leon
Email Address:
Location: Mill Valley, California
How did you find our site?: Wiki
Comment: I've just begun reading "Punished by Rewards", a Christmas gift from my son. I've been "BF Skinner-ed" from the cradle. Now, with ten grandchildren [19 to 6 years] I wish to spare them from that "box". Thanks

Posted On 12-16-2013 3:30 PM
Your Name: Ron De Shanne
Email Address:
Organization: Parent
Location: Ellendale, Minnesota
How did you find our site?: By accident.
Comment: Thank you!

Posted On 12-06-2013 6:12 AM
Your Name: haleema subzwari
Organization: art teacher, counsellor
Location: pakistan
Comment: I have read Mr. Kohn's articles and must say that you have changed the way i think!! for the one year i have been seeking guidance from your wisdom. God bless u! Sir.

Posted On 12-03-2013 11:48 AM
Your Name: David Cronkite
Email Address:
Location: Kanata, ON, Canada
How did you find our site?: Mentioned on CBC radio interview
Comment: I am a private music teacher who teachers drums and piano. I want to rework my studio to reflect the research Mr. Kohn writes about. Any music teachers out there who want to share?

Posted On 11-03-2013 5:49 AM
Your Name: Miles Blanton
Email Address:
Organization: BGSU
Location: Bowling Green, OH
How did you find our site?: Saw keynote at NWO Symposium 2013
Comment: I saw your keynote address at the 2013 NWO Symposium at BGSU and had some etymological thoughts on your critique that educators are facilitators. If the word facilitator comes from the Latin for "easy", and yet good instruction does not highlight the easiness of a topic (in your example of the May Flower exercise the teacher kept complicating the problem, to good effect). Thus, I propose that good educators are not facilitators, but rather we should use a new word, difficilators, from the Latin for "hard". Thus a good educator difficilates an instructional environment. And this is a good thing.



Posted On 11-02-2013 9:27 AM
Your Name: Alison Kinross
Email Address:
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
How did you find our site?: I heard you on CBC Radio 1 this morning
Comment: Alfie Kohn, I can't thank you enough for your thoughts on CBC Radio this morning. I have recently graduated from university, and am slowly coming to terms with how useless my education has been, particularly from the beginning of high school until the end of my university education. This is because although I have usually managed to get the top mark, I have gradually learned to do this in the quickest way possible, which is a way that involves very little learning. So, I am emerging from university with an excellent transcript and resume (since most research positions are granted based on grades), and very little understanding to show for it. It's a real shame. Several times in high school and in university I recognized that I was getting by without learning very much, and I tried to change my behaviour. But this is very difficult when the whole system is set up to reward people for their grades - deciding to ignore my grades and focus on learning seemed as though it wouldn't lead to the opportunities that I wanted to have.

Posted On 10-10-2013 10:24 AM
Your Name: Carol Kirkstadt
Email Address: CarolK3140 at
Location: Loveland, CO
Comment: First, thanks for your book "The Schools our Children Deserve" ... I am trying to understand the issues surrounding Common Core and High-stakes testing and found your book very helpful.
I recently created two videos to try to get people interested in opposing this "reform" activity the first video is a overview with some specific charts for Colorado
The second is a poem "To the American School System"
I am hoping people will take the time to watch the videos and pass them on. We need to stop this "reform" effort.   Thanks, Carol K.

Posted On 10-06-2013 9:56 PM
Your Name: Amy Walker
Email Address: ficwriter79 AT
Organization: None
Location: Illinois
How did you find our site?: Frequent reader/guestbook signer
Comment: I find all of your articles to be especially hard-hitting, if depressing and anger-inducing for someone like me: unemployed and hopeless at the STEM subjects you write about in "STEM Sell". Nowadays, they seem to be the only skills and subject areas of any importance to employers. Thank you for bringing me hope and truth: that if you're stymied by science, terrified by technological concepts, eviscerated by engineering, and miserable at math, you are not worthless as a student or a human being. Bravo!

Posted On 10-04-2013 10:58 AM
Your Name: Stephanie Smith
Email Address:
Organization: DSI Inc
Location: United States
How did you find our site?: friend
Comment: this page is exactly what I was searching for! found your article bookmarked by a friend of mine. I will also bookmark it. thanks!

Posted On 09-23-2013 10:40 AM
Your Name: Randal Jones
Email Address:
Organization: Houston Independent School District
Location: Houston, TX
How did you find our site?: Saw it in Education Week
Comment: I read your piece in the Sept. 18 edition of Education Week. It was very timely because of the article that appeared in the Sept. 23rd edition of the Houston Chronicle entitled "2 Area Districts Reject Extra Testing". :


Although our legislature recently had the good sense to cut back on the number of tests that high school students must pass to graduate in Texas, there are still too  many being mandated by policy makers. More school based staff members are starting to heed your advice and being courageous enough just say no. Enough already.

Posted On 09-22-2013 9:33 PM
Your Name: Cynthia Nedich
Email Address: 2329 Ethan Way
Organization: Sacramento City Teacher
Location: Sacramento Ca
How did you find our site?: I googled Alfie Kohn in a desperate attempt to get satiated in the topics he writes and speaks about.
Comment: Yes! He is right. Now what do I do? Knowing he is correct on many if not all these issues, where will I teach?

Posted On 09-20-2013 7:15 PM
Your Name: Nobo Komagata
Email Address: 2013[AT]
Location: Ewing, NJ
How did you find our site?: Web search some time ago
Comment: Positive Behavior Support (PBS) is coming to my child's public elementary school.  As a concerned parent of the use of rewards in school and a fan of "Punished by Rewards," I wrote an essay to send to the principal and a district administrator.  If Mr. Kohn and/or anyone is interested in reading it and providing me comments/suggestions, I would really appreciate it.  The essay is available in the following two formats:

In addition, if anyone has an idea where I might want to submit it for additional circulation, I would appreciate it as well.
Thank you.

Posted On 09-16-2013 10:09 AM
Your Name: Inspire
Comment: I am so glad to see that I am not the only one that shares the same ideas as you! Honestly, I have tried telling students and teachers about how grades do not lead to better learning, and ultimately defeat the actual process of learning. But it seems like people are reluctant to understand this idea, or even listen to it. Some people are so much inside their box, that no matter how hard we try to change them, we cannot succeed (and believe me I have tried, just like you have :) ) if they themselves are not willing to change. I want to make people more aware of the fact that grades should be abolished. I still cannot believe that we are in the 21st century, and we are still facing this issue with grades. With a kind of mindset like that, we will go nowhere. I wish more people knew about your work and your ideas, Alfie Kohn.

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