Getting Rid of Grades: Case Studies

Given that most schools still send home report cards with letter or number grades, and most teachers still put these letters or numbers on students’ individual assignments, you would never guess that most studies of the effects of grades find that they’re destructive in multiple ways.
For nearly a century, in fact, educators have been pointing . . . (Read More)

More Evidence That Incentives Fail

Punished by Rewards is surely the only book from which excerpts were simultaneously published in Parents magazine and the Harvard Business Review – evidence of how pervasive is our culture’s embrace of pop-behaviorism. In the family, the workplace, and the classroom, more-powerful people try to control less-powerful people by dangling some sort of reward in front of them if . . . (Read More)

Rethinking Character Education: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom about Camp and Kids

CAMPING MAGAZINE September/October 2003 Rethinking Character Education: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom About Camping & Kids By Alfie Kohn A substantial number of people believe that camps can do more than provide an opportunity to have fun:  They can also promote children’s social and moral growth. This explains the growing interest among American Camping Association members in the movement known as ... Read More

Five Reasons to Stop Saying “Good Job!” (**)

YOUNG CHILDREN September 2001 Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!" By Alfie Kohn NOTE: An abridged version of this article was published in Parents magazine in May 2000 with the title "Hooked on Praise." For a more detailed look at the issues discussed here -- as well as a comprehensive list of citations to relevant research -- please see the books Punished ... Read More

Punished by Rewards?: A Conversation with Alfie Kohn

EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP September 1995 Punished by Rewards? A Conversation with Alfie Kohn By Ron Brandt Both rewards and punishments, says Punished by Rewards author Alfie Kohn, are ways of manipulating behavior that destroy the potential for real learning. Instead, he advocates providing an engaging curriculum and a caring atmosphere "so kids can act on their natural desire to find out." The following ... Read More

Newt Gingrich’s Reading Plan (*)

EDUCATION WEEK April 19, 1995 Newt Gingrich’s Reading Plan By Alfie Kohn Our culture is marinated in behaviorism.  At work, at school, and at home, we take for granted that the way to get things done is to dangle goodies in front of people.  Thus, it seemed perfectly reasonable to observers across the political spectrum when House Speaker Newt Gingrich ... Read More

The Risks of Rewards

ERIC Digest December 1994 ERIC Identifier: ED376990 The Risks of Rewards By Alfie Kohn Para leer este artículo en Español, haga clic aquí. Many educators are acutely aware that punishment and threats are counterproductive. Making children suffer in order to alter their future behavior can often elicit temporary compliance, but this strategy is unlikely to help children become ethical, compassionate decision ... Read More

A Closer Look at Reading Incentive Programs

Excerpts from Punished by Rewards (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993/1999) A Closer Look at Reading Incentive Programs By Alfie Kohn All those reading incentive campaigns inflicted on elementary school children across the country provide sobering evidence of just how many parents and educators are trapped by Skinnerian thinking.  They also illustrate the consequences of extrinsic motivators more generally.  Asked about the likely ... Read More

For Best Results, Forget the Bonus

NEW YORK TIMES October 17, 1993 For Best Results, Forget the Bonus By Alfie Kohn "Do this and you'll get that." These six words sum up the most popular way in which American business strives to improve performance in the workplace.  And it is very popular. At least three of four American corporations rely on some sort of incentive program. ... Read More