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Posted On 03-06-2010 5:45 PM
Your Name: Donna Harrier
Email Address:
Location: Casa Grande, AZ
How did you find our site?: Given to us as an assignment for behavior management


I have spent the last three hours going over your web-site, reading articles, and making notes, and all I can say is THANK GOD!!, there is finally someone who is willing to stand up for our kids.  I am studying to become a teacher, and during many of my interships, I have heard teachers say,  I am so tired of just "teaching for the test".  Our children deserve better, and I am behind you 10,000%.  NCLB needs and should be just thrown in the dumpster, and we need to start all over.  I come from a state that this past year was 49th in the nation as far as test scores go, and if scores are not improved I am sure that because of our ever expanding government, our school systems will be taken over by the federal government, and we will be told how to teach more so than we already are.

I found all of the articles that you have written amazingly insiteful, and right on the mark.  Again, thank you for caring so much that our students are properly educated.

Posted On 03-06-2010 1:00 PM
Your Name: Donna-Marie McKinnon
Email Address:
Organization: Central East Alberta Teacher's Assoociation
Location: Alberta
How did you find our site?: Google
Comment: I was inspired by your Key-Note address at the Teacher's Convention. I found I was in agreement with the points you made in your address. I have been teaching for many years. I taught Kindergarten (Early Childhood) when teacher's the the program was based on the document Philosophy, Goals and Program Dimensions. This was a very progressive document. In my view, Alberta took several steps backwards when they brought in a Kindergarten Program Statement first instituted in 1995. This document outlined exactly what was to be taught in Kindergarten. The result has been that the richness of the program, in my view, has been diminished and there is less time to explore learning possibilities. Thank you for sharing your ideas so passionately and eloquently. Your remarks have inspired me to explore and consider my own beliefs more deeply.

Posted On 03-05-2010 11:56 PM
Your Name: JD Dunlop
Email Address:
Location: Los Angeles
How did you find our site?: XM Radio
Comment: Fantastic interview today on Potus XM 130.  Listening to you was like an epiphany. Your ideas are the types of things I've been questioning about my education and now my kid's education for years!  Look forward to digging deeper into your theories when I get your books.  Dan Pink at the TED conference just spoke about how competition kills motivation and creativity.  You've got another champion on your side!

Posted On 03-03-2010 11:21 AM
Your Name: Mikala Woodward
Email Address:
Location: Seattle
How did you find our site?: googled you
Comment: I'm a parent, mostly agree with you on most things. Thought you might be interested in our recent (failed) experiment in behaviorist parenting:

Keep up the good work!

Posted On 03-02-2010 10:19 AM
Your Name: Jim Shon
Email Address:
Location: Honolulu
How did you find our site?: Article in Quality Counts


 This appeared in the Honolulu Advertiser, and seems to track your article in Quality Counts on Debunking Nat Standards

No Time for Hawaii ’s Education Standards

Jim Shon

Lots of people have opinions about education standards and benchmarks, mostly about how they must be higher or tougher.  This is poppycock.  Current standards suffer from five toxic flaws: 


Too many to be “covered” or taught in a quarter, semester or year with an emphasis on memorizing facts; we have forgotten about TIME.

Too many written as if they were college level essay questions;

Too few  require in-depth analysis or creative thought;

Too few require integrating knowledge with other core subjects;

Too few require applying knowledge to real-world situations.


Consider the following benchmark:  Explain the responsibilities of citizens in a representative democracy.   Anyone want to guess for what grade this was written?  I have taught graduate classes at UH where many students would not come close to answering this.  Yes, you can tick off some basic responsibilities, but civic literacy demands much more.   Look at countries around the world struggling with democracy.  It is so much more than voting.

Here’s another one:   Describe the ideas and principles (including checks and balances, separation of powers, representative democracy) of the Constitution.  How many voters with a college degree could do this justice? 

The answer: these are just two of nine benchmarks in the first semester quarter for Hawaii ’s Grade 8 Social Studies standards.  Unfortunately, in-depth exploration and understanding of issues, events, and ideas requires more time.   Hey policymakers!! Instructional time counts!!!...

“Benchmarks,” are designed to further refine and explain the broader standards.  They are also used by the mainland testing industry to pick and choose multiple choice questions for our high stake tests.  A teacher fears that if all the benchmarks are not “covered,” students could be faced with test questions totally unfamiliar.  There are a lot of describes and explains, but no analyze, interpret, debate.  Benchmarks emphasize retention of information and canned explanations... 


We can do better. We can be more realistic about the time it takes for quality teaching and learning each semester. And, we can admit that teaching kids to understand and apply knowledge is more important than “covering” material so fast that both teachers and students are frustrated.

Posted On 02-23-2010 12:31 PM
Your Name: Guido P.
Email Address:
Location: Italy
How did you find our site?: Google search: nocontest
Comment: I was testing on Google the rank our website when I found a book having the same title of our little italian artistic and cultural association. So I began to read it and I realized that someone had already theorized most of the matters that stand before the name, the ideals and the tasks of our organisation - ie. a deep critic to ancient and modern theories of society that dominate our times. We appreciated it so much, and you made us feel less alone... Thank you!

Posted On 02-22-2010 11:45 AM
Your Name: Eric Spears
Email Address:
Location: New Hampshire
How did you find our site?: searched
Comment: I'm a teacher who's been working on adopting more consistent nonviolent communication (as developed by Marshall Rosenberg). Avoiding punishment and rewards, as Alfie Kohn advocates, is also incorporated into nonviolent communication. It's interesting to do this work in the context of a competitive, rewards-based school and society. Here are my most recent thoughts on competition:

Posted On 02-19-2010 10:18 AM
Your Name: David Olsson
Email Address:
Organization: Hampshire Educational Collaborative
Location: Northampton, MA
How did you find our site?: Mentioned by associate.
Comment: Thank goodness I've found your work! I'm an "educational data engineer", helping schools manage and try to do something useful with data regarding their students, teachers, and processes. I'll lean on your perspectives and references to inform my work.

Posted On 02-17-2010 10:18 PM
Your Name: Karl Wheatley
Email Address:
Organization: Cleveland State University
How did you find our site?: Read lots of your books, etc.
Comment: I think we need to figure out a well-organized opposition to the test-punish-privatize paradigm that is so well funded and so well organized.  Others have been talking on blogs and websites about the need for this, and I wonder if you have any thoughts on how to approach this.

Posted On 02-13-2010 5:52 AM
Your Name: bonnie-jean
Email Address:
Organization: the big house where all the kids are coming in and out the door
Location: ottawa
How did you find our site?: from alfie lecture
Comment: i thoroughly enjoyed your talk on thursday at woodroffe high. you are entertaining, engaging and passionate about education. i left the room with many more questions than answers. i found myself wishing that i could have put into words, at that hour of day, the questions i had. what you describe as progressive education really "feels" like it is the right approach, but i'm having a hard time reconciling some aspects when integrating the ideas into how society works today. i agree that to better ourselves we may do well to adopt these principles in our schools. all of them, but at the very least, in our alternative ones. the olympics started last night and i saw, not a gathering of imbeciles who want the "pleasure of seeing the other guy loose" but a bunch of spirited people striving to be the best they can be in their discipline and those inspired by them. this begs the question about non-competition ideals. it is hard to see what is wrong with this forum of world comraderie. the athletes do travel and make friends. they are truly "in it together" even though they compete. the other thing is grading. while i feel that a lot of the opposing methods of teaching you describe hindered my own education, i did find the numbers helpful. to help me see how much of the material i had grasped or what i had to still work on. learning material is important, i believe. when i pay for a degree in herbal healing, i don't want to study the geography of haiti. will children be capable of studying a subject in college if they are unaccustomed to focussing on one discipline instead of following their bliss? which by the way is my formula to a successful life. "follow your bliss"(joseph campbell). so i come around full circle and find myself agreeing with this method of teaching youngsters. i think. i have not read your books and now, feel that i have to. thank you for igniting interest and motivating me to learn more deeply about some principles that are the foundation of the alternative school my children attend. i see and feel that this is "right" -now i seek to understand.

Posted On 02-10-2010 3:21 PM
Your Name: Waungawaumkaugae
Email Address:
Organization: one of the earth tribe
Location: Dreamer's Rock, Birch Island, Ontario, Canada
How did you find our site?: I sought it on the web.
Comment: You are referenced on page 179 of the following character education thesis. Its writing is on the same wavelength about 'carrots and sticks' -  profound character education versus the superficial appearance of it.  Please continue to share. We are all connected, Thank you for sharing insights that help the world be a more loving, forgiving, living place. As your friend Four Arrows would say, Mitakuyé oyásin.   Windhorse Dancer

Posted On 02-09-2010 5:48 AM
Email Address: hywel
Organization: Create Learn Inspire
Location: Yorkshire, England
How did you find our site?: Searched after reading an article
Comment: This is all great stuff. I've just left the classroom (well, drama room) after 16 years and am now helping develop teachers develop their engagement skills, as well as supporting those new to the profession. I use Alfie Kohn's articles as reading tasks for professionals who simply don't get the time to reflect. I don't know much about the diet of high school education in th US but here we're in danger of a change of governmetn that will totally throw us backward about 20 years to a model that was pioneered by the late Victorians! Help! If anyone's interested, I have a website at Cheers, and keep happy!

Posted On 02-06-2010 1:44 PM
Your Name: Beth Waleski
Email Address:
Organization: Daemen College
Location: Oakville, ON
How did you find our site?: Enjoying being a Kohn Groupie
Comment: GRADES ARE DESTROYING MUSIC EDUCATION!  The talented ones don't need them, and they are destroying the motivation of those less talented.  I recently saw a girl try very hard and flunk...who now cannot attend a university in Canada due to failing a class.  In the old system, she would've gotten an A+ for all the effort she put in.  Also in the old system, there were and still are ways in place for serious students to achieve.  Having to grade on how much instrumental technique one gets in  a short time is BOGUS!

Posted On 02-02-2010 3:47 PM
Your Name: Lucas Eberhardt De Master
Email Address:
Organization: Pacific University, Oregon
Location: Portland, OR
How did you find our site?: internet search under "Alfie Kohn"
Comment: I am working on a doctorate in clinical psychology. I had read Unconditional Parenting several years ago and now am wondering what empirical evidence there might exist that supports Kohn's approach in working with children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and their families. Anybody stumbled across any related literature?

Posted On 02-02-2010 2:43 PM
Your Name: Tanja Krüger
Email Address:
Location: Germany
How did you find our site?: "Unconditional Parenting"
Comment: i am very interested in nutrition and in one of my books i found a quote out of "punished by rewards". and for the first time i found exactly the words for what has actually happened to me in my childhood and what is still done to our children. so i read "unconditional parenting" and again i found so many of  my own thoughts  of what it is that we do wrong. i am no fan of parenting guides or such things but i will definitely tell everybody who lends me his or her ear, to at least try and read one of your books. i am very grateful for your work. i hope it will help to change how we treat children and help to change how we still treat ourselves. thanks again and keep it up!

Posted On 01-29-2010 12:13 PM
Your Name: Bill
Email Address:
How did you find our site?: known it for years
Comment: Add Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School in Greenfield, MA to the list of schools and/or programs that don't use letter grades. We are in the first year of using standards-based progress reports, and overall the transition has been smooth and positive. Conversations are focused more on what kids are actually learning and what they need to improve, rather than a global approach: "good enough" or "not good enough." All parents who have weighed in have been supportive. A few kids have asked if we could return to letter grades, but where we can turn those complaints into conversations, they have usually at a minimum conceded they have a better sense of how they are genuinely doing but "just miss the grades." And at least at first, I could see why they miss them .That's where you need to provide ongoing support and understanding while staking a firm commitment to what we are doing.
And yes, Alfie Kohn's work was one of the driving forces behind our decision. So was work by Rick Wormeli, and also publications of the National Middle School Association. And if you go way back to my own adolescence, Robert Pirsig, who started me down the path to eliminating letter grades. Thanks of each one of you.

Posted On 01-27-2010 5:00 AM
Email Address:
Location: Sydney, Australia
How did you find our site?: I've been a fan of Alfie Kohn for years.
Comment: Progressive educators and others in America should keep an eye on a battle that's hotting up in Australia over the Australian Education Minister, Julia Gillard's decision to publish details of each school's test scores on a website. This will facilitate the drawing up of league tables of schools. Further, Gillard has urged parents to assail teachers in so-called “underperforming” schools, thus affirming that the whole exercise is about shifting responsibility for problems from governments to teachers. (Gillard's inspiration, by the way, is Joel Klein, of New York fame. She is also a favourite of the US Republican Party, being an honoured guest of Jeb Bush at an education conference last year. That she is from the governing Australian Labor Party makes little difference.) The Australian Education Union (AEU) has determined to ban the national tests on which the information is based if Gillard doesn't do something to prevent the drawing up of league tables. This she steadfastly refuses to do so the stage is set for a showdown when the state governments try to administer the tests in May. Gillard is a powerful figure within the Government, being Deputy Prime Minister as well as Education Minister. Like her heroes in America, she was a lawyer, though not a corporate one – she once worked for trade unions! Gillard has shown a manic determination to pursue these policies in the face of overwhelming opposition from teachers, principals and other education experts from all sides of the education debate. Weasel words like “transparency” and “standards” are used to promote these policies. Though not a direct struggle against standardised testing, the debate has included critiques of the value or lack of value of such measurement standards. A good site to read about what's going on is the AEU's website: . If the teachers win this struggle, it will be a big setback to those who want to foist the worst of the US education experience on Australian students and schools.

Posted On 01-24-2010 10:02 AM
Your Name: Viki Bridge
Email Address:
Organization: Richards School
Location: Newport, New Hampshire
How did you find our site?: Google
Comment: I've read Punished by Rewards and Homework Myth. Although I don't always agree with everything, I really strongly agree about intrinsic motivation and the damage homework does to children. I just wish I could explain it well enough to convince other teachers in my school.

Posted On 01-23-2010 7:58 PM
Your Name: anonymous
Location: Missouri
How did you find our site?: Longtime fan!
Comment: Barack Obama really has some horrible ideas when it comes to how to reform America's public schools. First, its one size fits all: whether you are rural, suburban, inner city, successful or failing, you will all get the same reforms imposed on you from Washington. The reforms are mainly these: 1. We will lose teacher tenure. 2. Our pay will be tied to student's test scores. 3. We will have a lot of paperwork to do. 4. Obama gets all of his ideas from Arne Duncan, the new Secretary of Education, who was really good at basketball in Australia, but he' never taught a day in his life and it shows....I am sure the youth of America and the future of our country would be best served if you went "down under" and coached or something.

 [edited for length]

Posted On 01-22-2010 6:48 PM
Your Name: Gillian Andrews
Email Address:
Organization: Deerfield Elementary School
Location: Deerfield, MA
How did you find our site?: Read many of Alfie's books and articles
Comment: Ah, the joy of spring. Crocuses blooming, hard ground thawing, baby green buds on skeletal branches. And... standardized tests. Nothing like sucking the joy out of the beauty. The beauty of teaching, the beauty of a student's curiosity, the beauty of a conversation with your class about what equality means, the beauty of noticing the budding crocus by the playground that gives both teachers and students inspiration to live the writer's life. Teachers, no matter what, hold on to the beauty and the reason you joined this magnificent profession.

Posted On 01-22-2010 3:50 PM
Your Name: N. John Borgen
Email Address:
Organization: Education Minnesota
Location: Minneapolis
Comment: Your article in the 10-14-10  Ed Week, "Debunking the Case for National Standards"  is right on. Your comment about hitting bottom ten years ago and now seeing we are in the basement surveying the damage was apt. Now with RTTT we see that it can even get worse.


Daniel Pink's new book, Drive, argues a good case for needing to take a fresh look at the nature of rewards, punishments and the value of intrinsic motivation, not only in business and the world of work, but also in our schools. His arguments are most applicable to the debates raging on national standards and the black hole of statistics and testing.

Posted On 01-19-2010 11:05 AM
Your Name: B.A. Schoen
Email Address:
Organization: R.E.F.I.T. Nassau County (NY) B.O.C.E.S.
Location: Baldwin, NY
How did you find our site?: Followed link from e-mail forward
Comment: I loved "Debunking the Case for National Standards". I always tell colleagues: "If you are thinking about attending a conference and Alfie Kohn is speaking: Go!
I think we have to redirect ourselves to the battle of the language and take the initiative.
When states talk about "cuts to Education" they are really talking about either limiting opportunities or shifting tax burdens.
I can't imagine a governor's State of the State or Budget announcement in which they said: "What we have to do is increase the disparity between the education one child receives and that of another, we need to impose burdensome, regressive, inefficient property taxes on our poorest neighborhoods so our State budget looks good to the Bankers and Wall Street!"

Posted On 01-14-2010 3:19 AM
Your Name: David R. Herz
Email Address:
Location: Israel
How did you find our site?: most likely one of Mr. Kohn's books
Comment: I just finished "What Does it Mean to be Well Educated?" and I am left with a few questions.  Mr. Kohn suggests that "[p]art of the problem is that we shy away from asking the right questions and from following the data where they lead." (p.28)  This is said in the context of testing suggesting that instead of discussing its utility, we waste our time with how we accomplish it.

To paraphrase, until we are ready to question the underlying assumptions - in many cases approaching the level of accepted dogma - we are unlikely to effect significant change.

So I would like to ask to what extent people have questioned the assumption that the essentially compulsory public education system is a good thing.  The current argument seems to be whether the government should be funding its own schools or the schools of some organization contracted to provide a similar service.

Why are we not asking whether the government should involve itself at all in the education of our children?  Mr. Kohn has often addressed the issues of autonomy, respect, and choice.  Doesn't the design of most of the current systems run counter to those values?  If this is endemic to the system, shouldn't we look at the value of the current publicly funded system - even in its most ideal incarnation - against the value of a  real back to basics system, such as homeschooling or the pooling of resources by concerned citizens to provide the education that was important for them to provide their children, or even against the value of a child education tax credit or even direct payment for a certain amount of educational expense by the government, to be used as the parent sees fit?

Posted On 01-13-2010 10:54 AM
Your Name: Geri Carley
Email Address:
Organization: Ridgefield,Ct Public Schools
Location: Ridgefield, Ct
How did you find our site?: Via "Punished by Rewards"
Comment: I teach in an affluent community, in one of the two middle schools. Tradition has been to have a "by invitation only"  8th awards ceremony every June. Last year I volunteered to handle the whole process from collecting names from all core and encore teachers for all the awards across the curriculum, to sending out letters to parents, to getting refreshments, etc. The most offensive part of this process was having to order engraved medals for each student for each accomplishment. Watching these students cling and clang up and down the aisle, wearing these medals around their necks,  was more than I could stand.


I was truly mortified by the outcomes, both from parents and students. Those who win usually win BIG and that leaves the majority of the students out of competition. I had parents calling in a rage to question why "Johnny" didn't get an award in every single category. Don't you know this will impact his ability to get into a good college?" And then I had students who hadn't been nominated ask what they had done wrong. One boy even said, "I guess I'm just not as good as the others".  Broke my heart.

I told my principal I would never, ever have a part in anything like this again. As a result,  this year my principal and superintendent have agreed that we can change this event; we just cannot eliminate it (at least not yet).

So.....does anybody have any suggestions as to how to honor student accomplishments in a more thoughtful way?  Any ideas are greatly appreciated.

Posted On 01-08-2010 10:38 PM
Your Name: riffat
Email Address:
Organization: mrs haques nursery.
Location: pakistan
How did you find our site?: thoughtful
Comment: helped me clarify my thoughts on praise and encouragement


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