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Posted On 09-07-2006 10:07 AM
Your Name: Steve Smith
Email Address:
Organization: University of Louisville
Location: Louisville, KY
How did you find our site?: browsing: NCTE,, etc.
Comment: Keep up the good work!

Posted On 09-07-2006 9:27 AM
Your Name: Daniel Custodio
Email Address:
Organization: Traveling Poet
Location: Richmond, VA
How did you find our site?: Google

I just want to say 'thank you' for writing with such passion and quality.  I first came across your book, "Punished by Rewards" while attending the Kellogg School of Management and incorporate many of the points in that book in my after-school program, Traveling Poet.  Keep on writing!

Posted On 09-06-2006 4:41 PM
Your Name: Orion Miller
Email Address:
Location: Vernon, B.C.
How did you find our site?: Google.

When I was in grade seven, I had a teacher that was inclined to give a large amount of homework, and when she decided to give us a huge essay and assignment to do over the Christmas holidays for an outrageous amount of marks, I said I'd had enough. Rallying up all of my friends, I composed a petition politely stating that we would appreciate it if we could have no homework over the holidays, as Christmas is a time to relax and spend quality time with your family. The entire class signed, and at the end of class, I left it on her desk in an envelope, hoping for the best. The next day as we arrived in class, however, our hopes were dashed. Our teacher was standing next to the chalkboard, fingering the petition. It looked as though we were going to receive a “talking to.” Once class had officially started, she began her rant. She completely overreacted, and was even reduced to the point of full out yelling. At the climax of her speech, she tore the petition in half, crumpled it into a ball, and threw it on the floor. A petition is a demonstration of free will, democracy, and freedom of choice, and should not be responded to in such a way, if anything should. After she was finished, she called in the Vice Principal, who blew her top off as well, and took it even worse than our teacher had. She gave us another long and angry speech, which included references such as the “class from hell,” and much finger pointing at the nearly demolished piece of paper. She came in every morning for the rest of the week, and enrolled our class in a kind of group counseling for the next while. In the end, we received the homework for the holidays, probably more than she had originally planned, and nothing was changed in that class, except perhaps for longer detentions. This is an example of how our education system is flawed in more than one way, and I agree with you one-hundred percent about your ideas and research on homework.

            In conclusion, thank you for enlightening the world about the wonderful research you have done, and I hope that people will start to see the truth in your words and begin applying it to today’s education system.

Posted On 09-06-2006 1:17 PM
Your Name: Sarah Wright
Email Address:
Organization: NA
Location: New York City
How did you find our site?: googled "Alfie Kohn"
Comment: I found the book Unconditional Parenting at work and since I am always reading parenting books, picked it up and started reading. Around the same time my husband, who at the time was in graduate school for education, told me about a speaker he went to hear, Alfie Kohn. He also assisant teaches first grade. We are reading more of Kohn's work now and looking into more of it and wanted to find out how other parents use his ideas in a practical way. We have a five-year-old who has mild special needs and who has had a lot of difficulty in pre-school, and in general in social situations.

Posted On 09-06-2006 7:16 AM
Your Name: Autumn McGregor
Email Address:
Organization: not very
Location: Indiana
How did you find our site?: Google

I'm not going to say congratulations.  I'm not going to praise you.  I will say tho..  YOU GOT IT!  I too listened to the Diane Reem show, and must confess this is the first I have ever heard your name.   I do not agree with everything wholeheartedly because that is just not my way, but think your refreshing ideas can only help to balance out an over the top structured environment our system grasps onto fearfully.   I have a nine year old free thinker, like myself, who doesn't seem to fit well into this sort of system.  I gave him the choice to continue public school or homeschool.   I do think however each and everyone of us is different, and therefore some children fit well and do well within this sort of system..   For all the others that are not 'seen', you are a voice.   Everytime I hear an adult talk about a child recieving a failing grade I regard that child as a revolutionary.  Kids who are not afraid of failure just may be the ones who revolutionize this boxed up system.   Regarding a quote from one of the posters below:  

  "If children were responsible enough to know what they need, why they need it, and what benefit it would produce in the long run, there would be no need for parenting, guidance, or education."

Would it be so horrible if we found out some children need us less than our egos like to tell us they need us?  What if there are some children out there who only need our love and suport for whatever it is they are.. they do.  What if we can't look past our fears, can only see our own needs, and never see 'them'.

As far as purchasing your books, I likely will not.  I believe everything I need is right here.. in my heart.  I might tho.. for kicks!   --Autumn

Posted On 09-05-2006 3:17 PM
Your Name: Roger Cisnros
Email Address:
Location: Miami
How did you find our site?: WLRN Diane Rehm Show
Comment: Dear Mr. Kohn, First of all I want to congratulate you!!!!

 I found todays topic very interesting and your point of view has a lot of validity. I have an 18 year old daughter and all through her schooling I asked myself lots of questions that  constantly challenged the "System".  Things you said today made a lot of sense to me and the way in which you expressed them (with such eloquence!!!! )was terrific. Again Congratulatuions!

Posted On 09-05-2006 1:56 PM
Your Name: Michael Epperson
Email Address:
Organization: PFPA
Location: DC Metro
How did you find our site?: Google
Comment: Dr. Kohn,


I heard your interview on WAMU today and was rather appalled at your entire presentation. Your suggestion of "letting the children choose their own curriculum and assign themselves their own homework" is not only ridiculous, but also counter-productive. If children were responsible enough to know what they need, why they need it, and what benefit it would produce in the long run, there would be no need for parenting, guidance, or education. If given that opportunity at that age, I would have stayed at recess, health, and Physical Education all the time.

I'm sure you are a hero to rebels, below-average children and slackers nationwide, and you would have been the same to me when I was that age, but there is a valid reason behind the educational curriculum in our public schools. Perhaps you feel the career aspirations of today's children should level out at fry cook, or stocker at your local supermarket. Those types of positions always need to be filled, right?

Two of the phone calls early in the program were of a mother of two, who seems to have the ideal situation, where her children are happy to do homework, and finish it in a matter of minutes a day for the older, and a project a week for the younger. The other 'believer' in your philosophy was a kid who suddenly sparked an interest after he joined the military, where the pressure to learn is MUCH more disciplined than your average public school.

I am very fortunate to have been a solid C student throughout my educational tenure, and a college dropout. I now have a job in the Government as a Physical Security Specialist, and pull down over $60k per year. My comprehension of the work that I do has come over time and maturity, but the ground work was laid in my developmental years, with the repetition and practicing of the lessons given by the school staff. Your notion that children are missing the real "meat" of their lessons because they are merely learning the methods to solve problems, as opposed to understanding what they are being taught is totally off-base. Full understanding comes with experience and patience, but there needs to be some sort of base laid out first and foremost. I couldn't understand why most of what I was being taught was valid to my life back then, but as I live and grow, and adapt, things I was taught way back then are becoming clear now.

Your program seems to be easily achieved with home schooling, private schooling, or some other alternative method of education for the kids who have the opportunity for that, but realize that the majority of students come from families who only have one parent or guardian, and they are working 2 or 3 jobs at a time to make ends meet, and don't have the time to spend with their children's educational development, or the ability to keep up with the advanced curriculum.

Posted On 09-05-2006 11:50 AM
Your Name: Dale Threlkeld
Email Address:
Organization: College Prof
Location: Mascoutah, Il 62258
How did you find our site?: Diane Rehm Show
Comment: Bravo! I have come to believe that our public schools do not train the individual and that the grade system is antique...high school being the worst....but the homework is out of children are very creative and there is NOTHING for them. I sometimes feel they are preparing all children to be accountants or engineers, and yet is the creative individual that continues to make this nation what it is....not the bean counters.

Posted On 08-28-2006 10:45 PM
Your Name: Matt Jones
Email Address:
Location: Chandler, AZ
How did you find our site?: I was Alfie's original webmaster!

I started reading "The Homework Myth" this evening and it reminded me of an incident from my high school years I wanted to share with you: I got poor grades one term and my father decided it'd be in my academic best interests to take away my phone privelages and confine me to my room for most of the evening on school nights so that I could study. The following term, my grades had gone up! One might presume (as my father did) that I did a lot more studying. However, what I really did was get a lot more sleep. I was more focused in school because I was well-rested and that is what lead to higher grades.

Take care!


P.S. I have a copy of John Holt's "How Children Fail" on my shelf right before your books. I took it from my father years ago. Unfortunately, I can't find the reference you make to it because I have the seventh edition (June 1968) and you reference the revised edition from 1982.

P.P.S.  I love your new web site!

Posted On 08-25-2006 5:41 PM
Your Name: Jean Eriksen
Email Address:
Organization: Teacher
Location: NH
How did you find our site?: radio (NPR)
Comment: Thank you for a great story. Ironically, I was listening to Mr.Kohn's interview as I was preparing my classroom for the first day of school. What many people need to realize is that the policy of homework is not just driven by administrators & teachers but by parents and school board members as well. Personally, I feel that childhood is short enough and spending hour(s) each day after school, not to mention weekends is indeed a "2nd shift" mentality. Can I stop assigning homework? Sure. But then I  would receive phone calls from those parents wanting to know why their son's friend has homework and he doesn't. We are brainwashed into thinking that homework contributes to better scores on tests and as you know, our curriculum is driven by state assessments. AYP has become a contest between districts. Test scores are slowly becoming the end all, be all of a teacher's performance and credibility.  The politics of assessment dictates what, how and why we teach. No Child Left Behind?  No Teacher Left Standing. 

Posted On 08-21-2006 5:08 AM
Your Name: Amanda Brown
Email Address:
Organization: Student Teacher
Location: Carnesville, GA
How did you find our site?: Classroom Assignment
Comment: I am intrigued by your outlook on eucation and parenting.  I plan to read as many of your books as possible, but as a public school teacher (at this point) I question how many of your practices I can implement and not get in serious trouble.  Our county school system didn't make AYP because of the Middle school and high schools' scores.  All of our Elementary schools made AYP, but still we have alot of students in remediation and summer school.  I became very frustrated when we were told in a faculty meeting that unless it was covered in a standard and was going to be tested that I didn't have time to teach the skills!!!  I was furious.  That takes away my inquiry learning and teachable moments.  I am no longer a teacher, I am a person who sits at the front of the room and sweeps up the regurgitated answers of my mini robots!!

Posted On 08-14-2006 6:38 PM
Your Name: Ann Davis
Email Address:
Organization: Kino School
Location: Tucson
Comment: After growing up going to a progressive school with no grades or tests, my daughter spent her sophomore year as an exchange student in Japan. In one of her letters she wrote:

"Say cooking -- okay, a fun class, right? But they've worked very hard to make it testable. You have to slice over 40 slices of cucumber under a certain width in less than 30 seconds. Everyone was flipping out: 'I can only cut 35 slices! I'm going to flunk!'"

Posted On 08-11-2006 7:25 PM
Your Name: Shanna Fatica
Email Address:
Organization: Teacher
Location: Hickory, NC
How did you find our site?: from books
Comment: I have read several of your books, Punished by Rewards, The Schools Our Children Deserve and Unconditional Parenting.  I have recently got several more which I plan on reading as soon as I can.  I am going into my first year teaching with hopes of implementing a lot of strategies that I think coincide with what you are trying to teach.  I am working in a public school, so unfortunately some concessions will have to be made, but I plan on using consensus in the classroom, inquiry science, and student directed literature circles.  If you or anyone else reading this has any more ideas or resources to help with this I would really appreciate hearing about them.  Thanks for all you have done for our field.  You continue to shine light on areas of education that few seem to argue over anymore. 

Posted On 08-08-2006 12:25 PM
Your Name: Dixie Swartwood
Email Address:
Organization: self
Location: Highland Park, IL
How did you find our site?: off of Unconditional Parenting
Comment: I'm just delving into Unconditional Parenting right now, and am completely intrigued. I'm the mother of a two year old girl, and am looking for ideas and ways to cope with a busy, inquisitive toddler.

Posted On 08-08-2006 10:17 AM
Your Name: Amanda Arabie
Email Address:
Comment: I just finished reading the newspaper write up about MA DOE not allowing you to speak and the action that you took against them. Good for you! I had the pleasure of attending a speech you gave about the drawbacks / consequences of standardized testing at Bridgewater State College years ago and since then I often find myself turning to your books and articles for advice. I am a new teacher who is striving to make a real difference in my English classroom, and I can only say that it is very difficult to do. For example, when working with a piece of literature I try to help my students to look beyond the obvious- what does that passage remind you of? how does it make you feel? what kind of real life connections can you make to what the author is saying? etc. and most of my students cannot do this. I don't know if it is a result of thier past teachers' "accountability" to have them recall the obvious and spit it back or if I am doing it all wrong. Their so focused on not making mistakes, even when I encourage them to make mistakes and then see how to learn from those mistakes. As a result of the MCAS, students no longer know how, or are afraid, to think freely. The bottom line for them has become to get the right answer and there is little to know room for educational growth.

Posted On 08-07-2006 10:26 PM
Your Name: Ameeta
Email Address:
Organization: Montessori Children''s House of Shady Oaks
Location: CA
How did you find our site?: Search Engine


It was a pleasure reading 'Punished by Rewards' which so unequivocally drove the point that punishments and rewards don't work in reality and are rather a 'Penny Wise, Pound Foolish' approach.

I have always been critical of Skinner's behaviorism but this book helped me realise more concretely that many of the good-intentioned tactics are actually based on behavioristic premises. Unlike pop psychology babbling this book's thesis actually identifies the cause why behavorism does not and cannot work--the cause being that man can actually reason, decide and choose for himself rather than just responding to stimuli and/or being determined by his environment and his genes. I really love the essential message of the book which isn't just the political correctness that Man shouldn't be controlled but an rare identification of the fact that essentially and specially in the long run Man cannot be controlled.

In today's wishy-washy world where intellectuals seem to indulge more in sophistry and use research data to "prove" their pet assumptions, it is quite heartening and inspiring to see a writer stand so unbudgingly by his principles and convictions and considering them as the absolutes they are.

So, I'll say "Thank You" for having articulately presented a very important theory about man's nature and for concretely, contextually showing why it works.




Posted On 08-06-2006 7:03 PM
Your Name: Virginia Beesley
Email Address:
Organization: Quinter High School
Location: Quinter, Kansas
How did you find our site?: EJ on the Web
Comment: I just read your article in the March 06 English Journal on the problems with rubrics. Thank you for your keen observations about and well-researched objections to rubrics. While creating rubrics for assignments/projects often helps me clarify my objectives for the assignments, I have frequently found them hard to use when trying to assess my students' work. Too often students' responses (especially the best and the worst of them) don't really "fit" into a rubric. Your article helped me understand why: worthwhile assingments invite unique and complex responses that can't (and shouldn't) be standardized.     I'm looking forward to reading some of your other books and articles.

Ginny Beesley

Posted On 07-30-2006 5:58 AM
Your Name: Chris Nicolson
Email Address:
Organization: Eliot Montessori School
Location: Natick, MA
How did you find our site?: at first from Arthur Levine, Pres. Teachers College
Comment: Congratulations on Homework Myth.  I cannot wait for parents to listen to your online interview, Alife. 
Most of our parents believe that homework gives them an inside track on  what their 4th and 5th graders are doing in school.  Since kids this age tell them less, it gives them a chance to make the home--school connection. 
One of our  most worthwhile project assignments in class has been the "Biogrpahy Scrapbook" of a child-selected individual.  Parents still speak about their profound interchanges about the overarching questions, such as "How did your person cope with difficulties and overcome obstacles in his life/career?"
I wonder about this:  What will we have to do to keep parents from saying :
--- we do not know enough about our child's school learning;
--- we will  not have a chance to participate
--- my child needs to learn time management and work up to all the homework still given in Middle School.

Posted On 07-27-2006 10:13 PM
Your Name: Nasreen Hashambhoy
Email Address:
Location: Mumbai, India
How did you find our site?: Ref from Schools that Learn, Fifth Discipline Fieldbook by Peter Senge
Comment: Hi. I am enjoying going through the articles on your website. I have often found myself alone with my "out of the way" views on education, leadership, and life.... till I found systems thinking, the fifth discipline books, transformative learning, and... now your website!


It is a pleasure to see that i've not been so hair-brained after all! I have never given homework to my students, except perhaps after 8th grade, even then, I usually left it to them to do it if they chose to - they usually did, if they found value in it. Most of the work was achieved in the classroom itself, and whenever I could take the children out, we went outdoors to learn through nature and life (very difficult in a city like Mumbai).

I am no longer teaching in a school, as I found it very limiting. Though I am in e-learning (it too has its limits, especially in methods of evaluation and feedback, I regularly interact with youth to help them find a direction in life by listening to their own voices, and to bring out their innate talent and abilities.  I will also begin working with those youngsters whom we have labeled "learning disabled".

Your website will continue to be an inspiration to me. It is nice to know that there are those who think alike, and are working towards realizing an educational vision. It gives me hope, and an incentive to continue. Thanks.

Posted On 07-25-2006 7:23 PM
Your Name: Dave Bradbury
Email Address:
Location: Wellington, NZ
How did you find our site?: blurb on back of Unconditional Parenting
Comment: When I was teaching, I was asked to take a class of Economics in the 5th Form. I had never learnt economics nor had any real interest in it but the school was short staffed and I was otherwise under-employed. By following your ideas from Punished by Rewards (pretty darn religiously) and dove-tailing those with Thomas Gordon's TET, our class was a model of interest and achievement. When I left the school I was told by the very conservative Headmaster that he had never seen a class so well managed - I really had them on a string. I told him that the point was I DIDN'T have them on a string, which was why they acted like human beings.  He sort of got it but didn't, if you know what I mean.


One third of the class passed all their internal assessments (externally moderated) at 100%. They were stripped of those marks to bring them into line with the rest of the department. 94% of the class passed their external end of year exams (the two who didn't pass had some real issues outside of school. Both of them came up to me later and said 'thank you for not yelling at me when I didn't know the answer'), against a school average of 62% and a national average of 50% (it was scaled to conform to the bell curve). I left the school after that year because they wouldn't give me a full-time job because I didn't have a degree in economics to go with the success of that class. I went on to another school and taught in my own area of expertise.

This stuff - your stuff - this way of thinking - is the only real way of really reaching a lot of the randomly traumatised kids who walk the streets and corridors around us.  Thank you Alfie - I'd give you a gold star but you might do less good!

Posted On 07-24-2006 11:48 AM
Your Name: Chad Dull
Email Address:
Organization: Western Technical College
Location: La Crosse WI
How did you find our site?: Google:)
Comment: Really enjoyed the unconditional parenting book.  Driving my wife and my siblings nuts when I notice them good jobbing kids to death or using the counting to three method that parenting experts seem to love (C'mon how much more threatening could you be).    I'm very anxious to read the homework book.  When I taught grade school, I caught a fair amount of heat for never assigning any, I'll be anxious to share what I learn

Posted On 07-23-2006 5:16 PM
Your Name: Chris Brown
Email Address:
Location: VA. Bch. VA
How did you find our site?: Link after link after link
Comment: I'm glad to have found you.  Last week I fought against the principles of rewards in a behavior management class in my M.Ed. program to the blank stares of professor and students alike.  I will look forward to reading the books and take comfort in knowing you guys are out there.

Posted On 07-05-2006 3:28 PM
Your Name: Demian Godon
Email Address:
Location: Seattle
How did you find our site?: link from Mothers against WASL site

Posted On 06-27-2006 11:55 AM
Your Name: Lee Nicholson
Email Address:
Organization: McClarin HS - Fulton County, GA
Location: College Park, GA
How did you find our site?: Read your Schools Our Children Deserve book

I will begin my second year of teaching Technology Education in an Alternative High School this August.  Your book, which I was fortunate enough to select from a list provided in one of my Masters courses at UGA, is one of the best books on education I have come across.

I was wondering if anyone within education was ever going to even mention student interest, relevance and motivation as a key to learning.  As a 30+ year sales person and sales manager before starting my "retirement" as a school teacher, I am acutely aware that people usually only do what they have an interest in.  There needs to be a "win" in it for them or they won't really buy-in.  I started my teaching with this idea and, while I can't always find a student's interest that matches up with being in school in any respect, my classes go a lot easier once I know what my students are interested in.  I'm often able to change their assignments to fit these interests or at least sell them on why an asssignment is relevant to the career that are thingking about.  I started feeling like I was on planet Mars with this approach (except for the success I was having with it) until reading your book.

Also,  your explainations of how to put Constructivist (see how I'm learning to speak in educational jargon?) ideas into practice are great!  Part Two of your book is a treasure house of 100's of creative ideas, questions, and techniques. 

I have a few different thoughts on grades, tests and competition (because the world is full of all three and students need to know how to handle them -- i.e. experiential learning before getting out into the world), but I agree with everything else in your book.   I totally agree with your points about the focus on acheivement vs. learning, producing counterproductive social behaviors, "bunch o' facts", the need for collaboration, etc., though.  My students are victims of years of this.  I avoid all of this and try to find "wins" for them to build on.  (I do tell them they are doing a good job, though!) :)

Thank you for a great resource and a great book.

Best regards, Lee 

Posted On 04-27-2006 8:51 AM
Your Name: Mary Davidson
Email Address:
Organization: Early Intervention
Location: Hood River, Oregon
How did you find our site?: was told about it
Comment: This year another teacher and I have been 'leading' a parent education group based primarily on Alife Kohn's work. We ordered 4 copies of Unconditional Parenting books and DVDs. Let's just say we  hardly have seen them back in our classrooms! They have been passed from one family to the next all year long. Our parent education class paricipants spends most of the time discussing family issues and dialoging on ways to solve conflicts. Their skills have bloomed and all are strong advocates of unconditional parenting. Another valuable video  and book we use it the High Scope Conflict Resolution with Young Children. It demonstrates techniques to help quide young children through resolving conflict in a non punitive way. Thank you Alfie for your very valuable work. A little at a time we can all make a diffence in the lives of children and their families.


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