Grit: A Skeptical Look at the Latest Educational Fad (##)

INDEPENDENT SCHOOL Fall 2014 GRIT A Skeptical Look at the Latest Educational Fad By Alfie Kohn This article is adapted from The Myth of the Spoiled Child, which contains references to the relevant research. A new idea is hatched; it begins to spread; it catches on; it inspires a flurry of books and articles, conferences and seminars.  And then it fades away.  ... Read More

The Downside of “Grit” (Commentary)

WASHINGTON POST April 6, 2014 The Downside of "Grit" What Really Happens When Kids Are Pushed to Be More Persistent? By Alfie Kohn [This is an expanded version of the published article, which appeared in the Post's Sunday "Outlook" section.  It has been adapted from chapter 7 of The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom about Children and Parenting.] ... Read More

Poor Teaching for Poor Children … in the Name of Reform (##)

EDUCATION WEEK April 27, 2011 Poor Teaching for Poor Children … in the Name of Reform By Alfie Kohn [This is a slightly expanded version of the published article.] Love them or hate them, the proposals collectively known as “school reform” are mostly top-down policies:  divert public money to quasi-private charter schools, pit states against one another in a race ... Read More

So What SHOULD Parents Do?

“If rewards and punishments just make things worse, what should parents do?” The question is perfectly reasonable yet very difficult to answer in a simple and satisfying way. That’s true, first, because everything depends on how the question ends: What should parents do . . . to make kids obey? (If we’re really looking for how to get mindless . . . (Read More)

Twenty-first Century Skills? It Depends What You Mean…

About a year ago, I was invited to write a chapter for an education anthology on the subject of “21st-century skills.” I replied as follows: “To be perfectly honest, I’m never sure what’s meant by the phrase ’21st century’ when it’s used as a modifier for ‘skills,’ ‘standards,’ or ‘schooling.’ The stuff that interests me, such as . . . (Read More)

Beware of School “Reformers”

THE NATION December 29, 2008 Beware of School “Reformers” By Alfie Kohn  “If we taught babies to talk as most skills are taught in school, they would memorize lists of sounds in a predetermined order and practice them alone in a closet.” -- Linda Darling-Hammond Political progressives are in short supply on the president-elect’s list of cabinet nominees.  When he ... Read More

Rethinking Homework

PRINCIPAL January/February 2007 Rethinking Homework By Alfie Kohn [For a more detailed look at the issues discussed here -- including a comprehensive list of citations to relevant research and a discussion of successful efforts to effect change-- please see the book The Homework Myth.] After spending most of the day in school, children are typically given additional assignments to be completed ... Read More

The Trouble with Rubrics (#)

ENGLISH JOURNAL March 2006 -- vol. 95, no. 4 The Trouble with Rubrics By Alfie Kohn Once upon a time I vaguely thought of assessment in dichotomous terms:  The old approach, which consisted mostly of letter grades, was crude and uninformative, while the new approach, which included things like portfolios and rubrics, was detailed and authentic.  Only much later did ... Read More

The (Progressive) Schools Our Children Deserve

SCHOOLS: Studies in Education Fall 2005 The (Progressive) Schools Our Children Deserve By Alfie Kohn [This is a transcript of the keynote address for a conference on progressive education sponsored by the School in Rose Valley and held at Swarthmore College on October 7, 2004.] I’m delighted to be with what I will presumptuously assume is a friendly crowd, such ... Read More

Standardized Testing: Separating Wheat Children from Chaff Children

2002 Standardized Testing Separating Wheat Children from Chaff Children  Excerpted from the foreword to Susan Ohanian's book What Happened to Recess and Why Are Our Children Struggling in Kindergarten? (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002) By Alfie Kohn Of all the chasms that separate one world from another, none is greater than the gap between the people who make policy and the people who ... Read More