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Posted On 12-09-2014 9:03 AM
Your Name: Nadia Alam
Email Address:
Organization: St. Mark's School
Location: United States
How did you find our site?: have known about Alfie Kohn through circles
Comment: Kohn's articles and insights have been so informative and transformative. I worry about what is happening in the educational arena...and discussions tend to be myopic and oversimplified. Alfie Kohn provides a fresh perspective and compelling points.

Posted On 12-06-2014 3:26 PM
Your Name: Tom S
Email Address:
Organization: University Student
Location: Chicago
How did you find our site?: Google
Comment: After reading Kohn's books and watching his lectures, I have fundamentally changed my outlook on life. I only wish I could have learned the science of motivation and psychological effects of competition sooner. After learning all this on my own in my college years, it became difficult to reconcile the fact that I am an economics major and a college athlete where I have competed at a high level in both. I look at the world differently now. One area I would be particularly interested to study or read on is how the same psychology comes in to play with dating and choosing mates. So much in the media and culture today shows that the only way to increase your "Sexual Market Value" (I find it obnoxious by the definition) is to have more stuff than the other person, or being more competitive. Disappointingly, I have yet to find any study or lecture that addresses this area.

Posted On 11-14-2014 2:26 PM
Your Name: Practicing Non-Judgment
Email Address:
Location: Los Angeles
How did you find our site?: Read Punished by Rewards and searched google
Comment: Thank you for your research and clarity on the subject of rewards, punishments, and specifically praise. It helped me recognize my motivations and how they were changed and shaped by praise throughout my life. I found that much of my intrinsic motivation was thwarted by praise and focus on approval. This shift in me has allowed me to further my journey of acceptance of myself, others, and my environment. What you bring into the light is something that has become the fabric of many people's lives, so much so that they don't even recognize how they are existing in this carrots and sticks paradigm. I have a toddler, and because of my new awareness, I am able to live and learn with her instead of controlling or trying to control her. The last lingering judgments are comments with adjectives such as sweet, cute, and nice. I recognize that they are just that, judgments, so I will look for alternatives to connect with her rather than judge her such as noticing and asking her how she feels. Just as I've given up praise, I know that I can give this up, too. Thank you!

Posted On 11-13-2014 1:35 PM
Your Name: Steve Follmer
Email Address: sffollmer at yahoo dot
Location: California
Comment: As a conservative Republican who saw your talk today about The Myth of the Spoiled Child, I have to ask you to stop confusing me with facts! As you know, facts have a well known liberal bias. We are just going to have to dismantle the universities to prevent more of these bothersome facts from being generated and disseminated. Okay, actually I’m not a conservative. That line about facts comes from Paul Krugman. I’m sure you are familiar with him but I mention him because he too wrestles with the utter intellectual bankruptcy of conservative think tanks. As you have noticed, they simply don’t fight fair, and it brings to mind the saying about “never wrestle with a pig”. Or Krugman’s concept of “zombie lies” that keep coming back no matter how often you kill them. Anyway I wonder if you have any thoughts on books like Nurture Shock, or Excellent Sheep, or on the work of Carol Dweck or of Malcolm Gladwell. I suspect also you are generally leery of the “Magic 1,2,3” approach to parenting, though I will say that material is actually fairly involved and has a few insights you may agree with and does not seem devoid of a research basis. Regarding The Myth of the Spoiled Child, it might be interesting to trace the roots of the flawed conservative ideology. It must at the least be self-serving and thus self-sustaining, to be so long-lived and so pervasive. A kind of profitable shibboleth.

Posted On 11-05-2014 9:58 AM
Your Name: Dan R
Location: Southern California
Comment: I'm a parent of a happy and bright first grader in a Montessori school. I often find myself questioning the assumptions many parents make about education and parenting, even at the Montessori school where one would think parents might be a bit more enlightened, progressive, reflective, and/or mindful. Their intentions are of course always good, but I'm dismayed by their apparent unthinking acceptance of so many ideas that may really have very little merit. Sure, there's definitely room for different parenting styles, but it's the not thinking through of things that alarms me. Most parents seem to think homework is normal and good even for first graders. I ask why. Most parents seem to feel a need to push their kids to practice piano or violin. I ask why. Most parents have a fear of their kids being too dependent or coddled or spoiled. I ask why. Most parents yell at their kids (and probably some even hit their kids). I ask why. Most parents do time outs. I ask why. I really admire how Alfie Kohn provides so many insights into what's wrong with so many of these types of assumptions that a lot of parents have about what makes for effective parenting and educating. His writings help me think through why I feel the way I do and help me explain to other parents other perspectives that they may not have thought about. I consider his writings to be an invaluable resource and a great contribution to the furtherance of the cause of better education and better parenting.

Posted On 10-24-2014 9:01 AM
Your Name: M.Bromley
Comment: Profound seems an understatement. Listening to his every word and I only dream that I can achieve even a small portion of his passion and energy. His every word is substantial and empowering. Bring on another 30yrs of teaching; I feel renewed and empowered. An amazing speaker.

Posted On 09-25-2014 9:06 AM
Your Name: J. Cressy
Email Address:
Location: Bethel, ME
How did you find our site?: Googled name
Comment: I decided to learn more about Dr. Kohn after finally reading "No Contest", a book I had picked up years ago, but had sat on my shelf unread. It really resonates with me, and I wanted to know more about what he has been doing since he wrote that book. It seems to me that things are much, much worse than they were when the book was published. It seems that no-one is listening! How very discouraging!!! Everything is turned into a competition - even things that do not need to be. A photographic and printing exhibition celebrating a local land trust's 25 years of land conservation has 1st, 2nd, and 3rd  prizes, instead of valuing all the entries for the insight they provide!

Posted On 09-11-2014 8:23 PM
Your Name: Allen Berger
Email Address:
Comment: Thank goodness there are people like you who are fighting the good fight in behalf of teachers, children, and education. I enjoyed your latest commentary in Education Week. May I share with you mention of an op/ed I wrote titled My Formula for Improving Education, which appeared last Friday (Sept. 5, 2014) in the Savannah Morning News? With best wishes for your continued contributions to make a better world.

Posted On 07-19-2014 11:31 AM
Your Name: Donald
Organization: Secondary education
Location: Vancouver BC
How did you find our site?: read your book :)
Comment: This is what I remember. At the end of each elementary school year, the teacher and principal would call a meeting with my parents and myself. Each year they would recommend that I stay back a year. They refused every time and I continued with my tutor and extra support. I managed to at least pass grade 8 with a 56% average. As a adolescent, I was silently fantasizing about a remote controlled monster truck. I didn't think to ask my parents for anything after such a dismal performance in school. To my surprise, they bought it for me anyways. This blew my mind, I didn't even realize they knew I was looking at it! As a result, I worked harder than I knew I could and finished grade 9 with an 85% average. I completed highschool in the upper 80's and early 90's. I was internally driven after realizing that my parents would accept me no matter how I did in school. I know how you feel about marks but lets put that aside for now. I still have my grade 8 and 9 report card. This is unconditional parenting. There was no condition to receiving the ultimate gift (it was SO cool! I still have the box for that truck). But their unconditional love lit a fire within me that remains to this day. Subsequently, I finished university and became a secondary school teacher. I now have two of my own children. I'm glad to have found your books. However I should say that my wife and I have already been implementing many of your ideas even before reading your books. It just makes sense.

Posted On 07-15-2014 8:02 AM
Your Name: Rachael Neu
Email Address: My firstnamelastname *at* gmail
How did you find our site?: Google
Comment: Sometime in the last month or so, I came across this site and read the article "Why Self-Discipline is Overrated" - and I immediately fell head over heels in (philosophical) love with Alfie Kohn's ideas!

As a mom of a 16 month old and an academic librarian, his works have rocked my world. I recently bought "The Myth of the Spoiled Child" and checked out Punished by Rewards from the library (for the chapters addressing the work environment).

While much of what Mr. Kohn writes is clearly applicable to all educational, workplace, and parenting contexts, I wonder if he might be interested in addressing the following areas or contexts more explicitly:

- Daycare for children under age 3 - choosing them, working with them, etc for parents who have to work - how does a parent evaluate the care & teaching of our very young and often preverbal children in this often less than ideal setting? Where does Mr. Kohn stand in regard to daycare for children so young?

- Libraries are ostensibly committed to the concepts of information literacy, critical thinking, and lifelong learning and the area of library instruction has made great strides over the last 10 years or more. However, I would be interested in Mr. Kohn's thoughts on the role of librarians and library instruction - if he were to read up on what is typically involved in the work of an instruction librarian and offer tips.

- Libraries (and educational institutions) as workplaces - I work in a very hierarchical work environment and it seems so incredibly counter to the mission of our profession and field (both librarianship and the larger area of higher education). I would love to see more written about the need for your approach in the educational workplace, including libraries!!

Many thanks!

Posted On 07-06-2014 8:45 AM
Your Name: Yvan Ung
Email Address: klingon_ecology "at"
Comment: After reading the article "How not to get into college", I kept wondering under which circumstances one would want to attend an extremely elite college.

The answer is that graduates from extremely elite colleges are more desirable to employers because such colleges are pressure cookers and merely getting into one such college requires exorbitant amounts of sacrifices, and that people who can make such exorbitant sacrifices just to go to college are more likely to do well in the workplace, more so than simply getting the best from an applicant pool.

For this reason, some employers favor hiring people who attend, and graduate from, extremely elite colleges over students who graduate from even moderately elite colleges, to the point where the latter won't even get a shot at an interview in the more extreme cases (investment/international banking, major law firms, but in the case of law firms, change colleges for law schools).

Posted On 06-12-2014 5:00 PM
Your Name: Cynthia Klein
Email Address:
Organization: bridges 2 understanding
Location: Redwood City, CA
How did you find our site?: I've read Alfie Kohn's books for years
Comment: We have been kindred spirits as I have raised my 25 year old daughter who is thriving. As a parenting educator, i recommend your books.

Posted On 05-28-2014 11:09 AM
Your Name: T. Cawlfield
Email Address:
How did you find our site?: Google
Comment: My two daughters, 10 and 12, have been having a tough time with excessive drill and hours of math homework in school. They are both in gifted/accelerated programs but I believe these programs do more harm than good. I don't know what to do. Maybe I can do some kind of "remediation" at home? Are there resources for parents and/or teachers focusing on secondary ed in math? .... I finally found Kohn's excerpt "What Works Better than Traditional Math Instruction" which resonated deeply with me. ... This constructivist approach is desperately needed in place of accelerated traditional programs that leave students disliking math and at the same time crippled in their ability to use the very skills they worked so hard to learn.  [edited for length]

Posted On 05-20-2014 8:19 AM
Your Name: lisa
Email Address:
How did you find our site?: book
Comment: I finished "Unconditional Parenting" on Mother's Day. As a parent to three girls (7/4/1), I've searched for a coherent approach to parenting for years. I've tried variations on punishment/reward, always with unease. As my eldest grew, that unease turned into worry. What was I teaching her? What impact was I having on our relationship? Your book gave voice and order to those concerns, and offered a very coherent alternative. The overwhelming balance of parenting advice (books, friends) really paints a picture of there is only one way (control), and if you don't choose it, you're doing your kids a disservice. I am deeply appreciative of finding your book; it has been a gift to our family. It gave me license to give up those things I was uncomfortable with and start working with my girls. We're all happier for it. Giving them some control, explanations - working with them - works - by which I mean, makes for happier, seemingly better adjusted kids. And a happier Mom (and Dad). Thank you!

Posted On 05-05-2014 7:08 AM
Your Name: Howard Phillips
Email Address:
Organization: Retired
Location: Puerto Rico
How did you find our site?: Daid Wees's blog
Comment: I have just read your piece on homework. Definitely 10/10 I wish you all the success in the world on this one. One of my views on homework, especially in math, is that it is a way of fixing the failures of the past in the education of the parents.

Posted On 05-04-2014 7:08 PM
Your Name: Robert H. Howard, PhD
Email Address:
Organization: retired
Location: Illinois
How did you find our site?: google search
Comment:  I helped design a charter school in Framingham, Mass some 10 years ago. No Grades. Student led parent conferences where the student shows his/her portfolio. I now substitute teach K-8 in Illinois. Most classes have rewards which I do not pass out. Kohn for President! At least Secretary of Education.

Posted On 05-04-2014 2:47 PM
Your Name: selma wassermann
Email Address:
Organization: Simon Fraser University
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
How did you find our site?: Google search
Comment: Thanks for the most important article in today's New York Times Week in Review section.  I hope all parents and teachers read it.

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]


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