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Posted On 08-23-2008 2:24 PM
Your Name: Jennifer
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Comment: I have just finished reading "What does it mean to be well educated?" and I wanted to thank Mr. Kohn for having produced such a thoughtful and challenging book. I am a recent graduate of a "highly regarded" preservice teaching program as well as the parent of three pre-school age children.  I am sad to say that many of the challenges to traditional education that were raised in this book were not addressed during my preservice education. For example, standardized testing was presented as little more than an inconvenience, with a shoulder shrug from the instructors before they moved right along to talk about the holy grail of teacher education: the all-importance of classroom management!  Furthermore, grades were never questioned (beyond how to assign them) and the definition of a good education was wholly absent.

 I am sending the name of this book to my former teachers and former classmates in the hopes that Kohn's important wisdom can be used to the benefit of our students.  Thank you once again for this important book.

Posted On 08-22-2008 7:56 PM
Your Name: Eliza
Comment: I've been reading your book "Punished by Rewards. I find the research and ideas quite interesting and for the most part compelling, but i disagree with you on  one thing - or maybe I would go further.  Your suggestions for how to help children learn without rewards overlooks the essential nature of our compulsory education system: the mere presence of children in the classroom is based on punishment and reward.  If children do not show up, they -or their parents - will be punished; if they show up and do what is mandated (whatever that may be) their incarceration is somewhat mitigated by praise and a sense of achievement. This fundamental adherence to coercion means that many of your proposals of how to educate children in the classroom have the same potential to be alienation and counterproductive that rewards do.

For example, you suggest (roughly) that students be asked how they would like to structure their learning. When I was in school the only real answer would be  - "not to be here."  The second might have been, "at least make it so I don't have to wear a dress" - if I had even thought of it.  People did sometimes ask that question, and I felt that it was essentially a trick - the net result of bringing anything up, and getting it, would have been that if I still didn't like school after it had been implemented, then it would have been my own fault.  It felt like asking prisoners to cooperate in the design of their own prison and then saying "What do you mean you don't like your cell? You chose the color of your walls?"....

I do think your ideas are interesting and I am sure that they will make a difference in how I treat myself and others and how I look at motivation.  But I think as long as school is  required and coercive, there will never be an authentic way to escape from behaviorism.  It is built into compulsory education from the beginning.

Posted On 08-20-2008 2:54 PM
Your Name: Torsten Klaus
Location: Bristol/UK
How did you find our site?: trough the book
Comment: It is quite difficult in our society to do something differently. People question your life style, your alternative ways and your thoughts. Your book is encouragment and a great help for my wife and me to continue our way. Thank you very much for your thoughts and strategies!

Posted On 08-12-2008 8:51 PM
Your Name: curlin reed sullivan
Email Address:
Organization: Mom on a mission
Location: austin, texas
How did you find our site?: through your book
Comment: hello mr. kohn, I, along with my son's principal, neurologist, several counselors in austin and another parent, am about to help conduct a study at my son's school in austin texas to support our common belief that homework has gotten out of hand completely. It's our hope to gather some sort of data that shows homework is not helping our children succeed. We're having our first meeting in the next week and I'd love any advice you'd care to give me. Intuitively I have always believed that almost all homework is a bunch of bunk. That it does indeed rob my children of the little time they have left in a day to play and be unbridled in their imagination and leisure time. I've even gone so far as to create a timeline for a 5th grade teacher who had no children of her own. I felt it imperative to illustrate for her how quickly the time evaporates for children after school...with long drives home, snacks, rest, dinner, bathing, playing and transitions. She was aghast! My principal is behind me, my son's neurologist is thrilled to be on board, so are the counselors interested in the project. We're setting off on this together and if you have any suggestions for how to define "homework" and how to engage other parents without their fearing that their children will fall behind by participating, i'd love to know what they are. One of the counselors just recommended your book and i'm beginning it now. I'm ready to form an angry mob with happy hearts and open dialogue. I'm here to gather as many parents and garner as much pr as possible. hope to hear from you if you have any suggestions at all. if you are a parent or educator reading this, i would love to hear from you at my email above. i think we need to organize and be heard. yours with two dogs TRAINED eat any homework my children pull out of their bookbags! curlin reed sullivan

Posted On 08-12-2008 11:17 AM
Your Name: Danielle Koprowski
Email Address:
Location: Chicago, IL
How did you find our site?: Goodsearch
Comment: Thank you for the work you are doing and the message you share with parents and educators!

Posted On 08-08-2008 7:48 AM
Your Name: Karlen Anderson
Email Address:
Location: Des Moines, Ia
How did you find our site?: SAI conference
Comment: Thank you Mr. Kohn for challenging me, I enjoyed your comments and insights.

Posted On 08-03-2008 11:04 AM
Your Name: mary O'Brien
Email Address: maryo77
Organization: none
Location: Rhode Island
How did you find our site?: google
Comment: I agree with you totally... especially about parenting. I'm very concerned about a lecturer I recently heard about. His name is John Rosemond. His beliefs are very dangerous and destructive. He thinks that children should fear their parents like they did fifty years ago. He doesn't think they should feel compfortable talking to them. I was raised by parents like these. I had a nervous break down by age ten because of it. So I speak from experience. Is there any way to sway people from him? One of the things that bothers me is that he is apparently a christian. Therefore he is giving christians and God a bad name.


Posted On 07-26-2008 4:54 AM
Your Name: Barbara Smith
Email Address:
Organization: The Sterling Hall School
Location: Toronto, Canada
How did you find our site?: googled "Alfie Kohn"

I was impressed with your thorough compilation of the research on homework to date. Your work helped our Homework Committee make some good changes to our policy. This book, however, is about much more than homework. Your perspective is fresh and bold; I wrote on nearly every page of it. We've been moving towards a "less is more" focus on curriculum to bring out deeper understandings. We are eager to connect with other schools who are changing the education landscape..

Posted On 07-20-2008 8:39 AM
Your Name: Michelle Griffin
Email Address:
Location: Atlanta, GA
How did you find our site?: private school prinicipal
Comment: My daughter is in an amazing private preschool that invokes many of Alfie Kohn's practices (HIgh Meadows school in Roswell, GA). The school goes thru 8th grade and we hope to keep her and her brother there...HOWEVER, I am now considering homeschooling for K-3 so we may maintain control of our schedule and travel as we wish (school on the road if you will). I am having trouble finding secular curriculums that mirror Kohn's philosophy - can you help? I have read "Schools Our Children Deserve" with an interest, passion and outrage I find hard to explain - THANK YOU ALFIE FOR STANDING UP AND SAYING - "HEY! WAIT A MINUTE!" Our children need more advoctes like this. We need to make this thinking mainstream!!

Posted On 07-19-2008 7:19 AM
Your Name: Melanie Baker
Organization: Crestwood Elementary School
Location: Meridian, MS 39305
How did you find our site?: a friend
Comment: I am glad I am not alone. I can see that what we are doing with current testing practices is  harmful  to students.  I will tell my fellow teachers about this site and begin talking out about  oppressive  testing.  

Posted On 07-10-2008 7:37 AM
Your Name: Thomas Pendergast
Email Address:
Organization: Viterbo Servant-Leadership Program
Location: La Crosse
How did you find our site?: Google
Comment: Actually, cod liver oil is good for your health. Might want to rethink that analogy.  Thank you for being a true Servant-Prophetic-Leader for all learners young and old. What are your thoughts on cohort learning models for elementary and secondary education?


Thomas Pendergast

Posted On 07-05-2008 2:19 AM
Your Name: P Woods
Email Address:
Location: Kent, England
How did you find our site?: from Unconditional Parenting book
Comment: Just as I've been reading Unconditional Parenting, I've noticed our 2 and a half old start to say, "Well done, Daddy." It's made me to start to wonder about how often we dish out this praise if she's already imitating it. I have to admit it does sound patronising when she says it to an adult. I will definitely start listening to myself and try some of the alternatives suggested, like simply making a statement or asking a question, rather than positive but automatic (and pointless) praise. Thanks for a thought-provoking book.

Posted On 06-27-2008 6:05 AM
Your Name: Rivka Seeman
Email Address:
Organization: Nursery School Director
Location: NY
How did you find our site?: I'm a long time fan of Alfie Kohn
Comment: Punished by Rewards was a huge influence on my teaching.  Now I am loving reading Unconditional Parenting  and am sure it will make me a better parent and educator.  I  have been directing a large nursery school for two years, with a very different  philosophy from my own.  I am now looking to start a nursery school /  day care program in the tri-state area based on the ideas of unconditional parenting.  I am interested in either gathering funding to create the school on my own, or in working for someone to build a school from scratch, as long as our educational philsophies are truly in alignment.  Please e-mail me if you would like to discuss the possibilities.


Posted On 06-20-2008 6:37 AM
Your Name: Bridget Butterfield
Location: Burlington, VT
How did you find our site?:
Comment: Thank you Mr. Kohn. Had I known that there was an adult who could reason like you do and was speaking on behalf of children everywhere when I was growing up in school, feeling sick of "chasing the carrot" and disillusioned by the level of happiness I thought that society had to offer me, I may have had a very different life. Now, I am working with what I have and raising a child of my own, one who is not punished or selectively praised and it always amazes me that people have such a hard time believing that I never pressure him to say "thank you" or "sorry", he just does it on his won because he has seen me do it! It's as though they are certain that my beliefs are a recipe for disaster and are incredulous that my child would be so sweet when I have no trouble seeing how treating my 2 1/2 year old with the respect I wish I had had at his age is helping to build his confidence and make him treat others with a similar level or respect and empathy. Thank you! I knew I couldn't do it the way my folks were doing it but just winging it did not feel like I had put enough thought into how my parenting will affect him in the long run- you gave me the missing piece I needed to feel confident that I was doing the right thing, and that I could do better by him.

Posted On 05-28-2008 6:58 PM
Your Name: Paul Fernhout
Email Address:
Comment: Here is a long essay I wrote inspired in part by your work:
"Post-Scarcity Princeton, or, Reading between the lines of PAW for prospective Princeton students, or, the Health Risks of Heart Disease"

It's a sort of mix of personal memoir related to competition at Princeton and also a discussion of related issues -- especially an emerging post-scarcity society based on sharing and abundance.

Posted On 05-28-2008 2:49 PM
Your Name: Scott Steckler
Email Address:
Organization: George Cox Elementary School
Location: Gretna, Louisiana
How did you find our site?: Googled Alfie Kohn
Comment: I was helping a teacher who is about to take the National Boards come up with some educational theorists.  I suggested Alfie because he is my personal favorite and I was pleased to see that his schedule was posted.  So now, instead of going to a Cher or a Tina concert, I can plan to go see Alfie!!  While I'm sure  he does not sing as well as my two favorite artists, he can move you as much as Tina can and touch your heart as deeply as Cher.  Many years ago I sat and listened to him in San Francisco at a Connect Schools conference mesmerized by his talk on testing.  It was fabulous. I could have listened for hours.  He is as good a speaker as Barack O'Bama! Well, almost anyway, depending on your political persuasion!  Thank you, Alfie Kohn, for opening our eyes to so many truths.

Posted On 05-26-2008 2:18 PM
Your Name: Skip Kutz
Email Address:
Organization: SUNTEP
Location: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Comment: Mr. Kohn reminds us what Aboriginal Americans and Canadians have tried to teach the dominant society for years....without success....the value of co-operation, community and unconditional love. Mainstream education has attempted to remake citizens into something most are not, and almost all don't want to be. Even the so-called high achievers are being short changed by our schools' preoccupation with sorting, ranking and labelling. Let's consider the wisdom of the Elders and AK's insights before we unleash  more terror on our kids.

Posted On 05-21-2008 10:06 PM
Your Name: Becky
Email Address:
Location: Washington State
How did you find our site?: Referral from University Professor
Comment: I graduated in December in Elementary Education.  I am a big fan of Mr. Kohn's ideas and philosophies.  After Reading Punished by Rewards I have been able to look back on my schooling and have found that my teachers never really thought that I did a good job.  In fact, all that time of seeking their approval I have found they were working on auto pilot!  It wasn't until one of my University Professors asked me what I thought about how I did on a certain assignment (instead of saying the regular pat on the back "good job") that I realized that there was something different.  I do not want to be a traditional "stickers and sweets" teach.  I want to help my students find validation in themselves and their own capabilities.

I still don't fully understand all of Mr. Kohn's philosophies but I'm trying to.  I have told others but they laugh at me.  While doing my student teaching, my own University Supervisor told me that I needed to continually praise my students and that children do not have the ability to be internally motivated.  I respect my supervisor but I disagree.  Children are very capable...they just need to be shown how to be motivated without the reward.

From a rising generation of new educators, I ask for help in understanding this philosophy for I feel that there is still so much more that I need to learn...I want to be able to implement such when I have my own classroom.

Posted On 05-21-2008 3:17 PM
Your Name: John Roseman
Email Address:
Organization: University of La Verne
Location: La Verne, California
How did you find our site?: Google
Comment: I am in higher education and would like to know how I can "judge" the degree of competency of a student on a selected objective if I don't have clear criteria in mind? The recent remark of Alfie Kohn's on course syllabi does not provide an alternative. Students have a right to know what criteria are going to be used to evaluate them, they also have a right not to be subjected to ambiguous values. Help me out here. If I want to encourage self-directed, self-responsible adult learners who are trying to develop a certain level of competency in a field, and there are certain criteria that indicate competency, how can I be a facilitator of their learning if I don't provide guidance and clarity?

Posted On 05-18-2008 12:18 AM
Your Name: Bob Morgan
Email Address:
Organization: Alia College
Location: Melbourne Australia
How did you find our site?: Google search on 'progressive education' lead to the interview with Kitty Thuermer
Comment: I was astounded to read such a well reasoned and grounded article on progressive education.  It is thoroughly refreshing and uplifting to read.  I wish I could say it half as well.  I am reproducing it for our community.

I seem to have come to the identical position as yourself but from the practical path rather than the well reasoned explanatory path which I have never mastered.

You may have said this elsewhere but I feel that a very important matter is this:

If progressive education is better than traditional education then the average results from progressive education should be better than the average results from traditional education on most or all tests, in particular mathematics! and with less expense.

I am determined to show this and feel that I am well on the way to doing it.

If ever you are visiting Australia please let us know.

Posted On 05-14-2008 9:50 PM
Your Name: Todd Parker
Email Address:
Organization: By any earthly standard, none
Location: Maryland, USA
How did you find our site?: "What Does It Mean to Be Well Educated?", in the credits
Comment: I read one of your books in high school, The Case Against Standardized Testing, I think, though my memory is hazy.  Unfortunately, at the time I was not really balanced enough in mind to appreciate it properly, and I drove my parents crazy for weeks on end with rants fueled by your arguments.  Appropriately enough, education at an institution run mostly (though not intentionally, I think) on principles you champion has rendered my mind whole at last, and I find that, though divided from you by political principles and deeply held religious beliefs (on neither of which I shall elaborate), most of what you say still rings as true as it did back then.  You speak with a well-supported and (what is more important) well-reasoned voice, without undue anger or bias, and what you say is almost all true, as far as my experiences have given me any insight.  I only hope that if at some future time I find something important that I must tell the world, I can do it as well as you did.  Thank you.

Posted On 05-13-2008 4:38 AM
Your Name: Fr R. Mary John
Email Address:
Organization: Neighbourhood Community Network (NCN)
Location: Nagercoil, India
How did you find our site?: Google

I have just gone through the book of Mr Alfie Kohn, No Contest. The Case Against Competition.  I agree fully with the author word by word.  I also see the deep-seated desire of the author for a better society in which people can live peacefully and fraternally – a world in which humanistic values are at home.  He has made the world to re-evaluate a methodology that has hitherto enjoyed unquestioned acceptance.  

I promise that I shall try to put the ideas of the author into practice in my place, the southernmost part of Indian sub-continent.  I have also sent a note to the author attempting to establish a contact with him, if it pleases him and if he could find time for that.

Thank you Mr Kohn for your great service not only to the but also to the whole world.

R.M. John

Posted On 05-12-2008 12:39 AM
Your Name: Susan Smith
Organization: International Montessori School of Prague
Location: Czech Republic
How did you find our site?: looking for information, am familiar with Kohn's books
Comment: The ideas presented in the website are similar to what Maria Montessori observed with children. Consequently we have very happy fulfilled children at our school.I will use the author's ideas as a reference to our parents.  

Posted On 05-08-2008 12:50 PM
Your Name: Katherine Rosen
Email Address:
Location: Santa Fe, NM
How did you find our site?: I think it's brilliant.

Posted On 05-06-2008 6:25 AM
Your Name: Tammy Young
Email Address:
How did you find our site?: researching Montessori
Comment: I am a mother of two young girls (ages 2 and 6) and I am also in school to become a teacher.  I am considering starting training in July for Montessori certification.  I came across an excerpt of Kohn's book, "Unconditional Parenting."  I reserved a copy at my local library and can't wait to read it. 


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