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Posted On 04-25-2006 8:18 PM
Your Name: Tracie O\'Hara
Email Address:
Organization: Merry Oaks Elem.
Location: Charlotte, NC
How did you find our site?: looked for it after reading your books
Comment: I literally wore out my tape of the talk on "Punished by Rewards", and keep a spare copy of the book so I can give it away when needed.My school district buys the whole nightmare - rewards, character ed., merit pay - but we are about to change superintendents, so we are waiting to see what happens. My greatest problem in working with parents and teachers is how hard it is to explain why what I do can work for them - everyone wants the class I have, but no one wants to give up the reward system and put in the work to build community. I had an interesting discussion with someone from Vanderbilt U a couple of years ago about why I thought token economy didn't work  - "but the teachers find it works, and so fast" he said. "I can get the same reaction with spanking" I said. He had no response, but I heard him tell a collegue "we need to find something different to call token economy", which is what they did. A semantic change for the "sunshine reward" in the RECAP program, but token economy nevertheless. Please keep up your work, you help to validate and give the words to many of us who actually trust the children and have faith that they don't need to be "managed".

Posted On 04-24-2006 7:15 PM
Your Name: Shawn Ross
Email Address:
Organization: Nativity Montessori School
Location: Maysville, Ky
How did you find our site?: Book

Mr. Kohn and readers,

I must let you know about a recent encounter. After reading Alfie's book, Punished by Rewards, I became interested  in the reading program at our local public school. I asked a friend to check it out for me. She informed her childs teacher that she had recently read some research showing a negitive long-term effect of rewarding children for desirable activities and if her child had the option of "opting out" of the reading for rewards program. She was informed that the reading program counted    15% of her child's GRADE!  Her child get good "grades" so naturally she would not want to "punish" her child by opting out of the program.  Seems like they've got you coming and going doesn't it. I had to ask myself the question, "Who is really in charge of this child's life?"


Posted On 04-19-2006 1:55 PM
Your Name: Barry Blauer
Email Address:
Organization: Berkley Board of Education
Location: Berkley, Michigan
How did you find our site?: Learned of it at National School Board Association Conference
Comment: Alfie spoke of testing at the conference. I am using his words wherever I go, to whomever I talk to; this will include my legislators and my state school board. If test scores have gone up, what learning was sacrificed to cause it?
Thank you, Alfie, for speaking up for the students.

Posted On 04-19-2006 12:06 PM
Your Name: Doug MacLeod
Email Address:
Organization: Winthrop School
Location: Ipswich, MA
How did you find our site?: a bookmark of mine
Comment: Thank you, Alfie, for continuing to be a beacon of reason as the world of education spins more and more out of control. You have been an inspiration for me as an educator for many years. Keep talking, people are listening!

Posted On 04-13-2006 11:14 AM
Your Name: Dana Reason Myers, Ph.D
Email Address:
Organization: lecturere/pianist
Location: Claremont, CA
How did you find our site?: Google

My husband (who is  D.O.) and I are enjoying your book "What Does it Mean to Be Well Educated? ( as well as several others in our library)" At moment we are deciding whether to homeschool or send our child to a constructivist Public School called Sycamore in Claremont, CA. While the school is quite amazing for what it has created under the current trend of more testing and standards, and big classrooms, we still have reservations about the use of  the nervous tick-like speak of "Good Job" used by most parents, kids and educators, competitive sports and games at the school and the use of "Punishment's and Rewards" to manipulate children into doing what adults want them to do! Of course the easy access to unhealthy food choices in a cafeteria doesn't help the matter nor does the proliferation of many families obession with TV culture ( and its attendant products!) help us in our decision.  Your books and research have been such a help for us as we become clear as to what is the best way to raise healthy, curious, empathetic children into equally empathetic adults. We hope to attend your talk in Sacramento this summer.

Posted On 04-05-2006 6:18 PM
Your Name: shawn k ross
Email Address:
Organization: mother and physician
Location: Maysville, Kentucky
How did you find our site?: google

Thank you Mr. Kohn for having the courage to speak out against the current trends of rewards, and high stakes testing.  You truly care about children and the future of this nation and world.

Shawn Ross, M.D.

Posted On 04-05-2006 9:11 AM
Your Name: Jennifer Hayes
Email Address:
Organization: Washington Elementary
Location: Olathe, Kansas
How did you find our site?: Read your book, Punished by Rewards
Comment: Your ideas on education touch me very deeply.  I get emotional whenever I read your books because I identify so intensly with everything you say.  I am 40 years old and working on my elementary education certification.  I am currently in a class regarding classroom management and my partner and I will be presenting a report on you to the class on your ideas in Beyond Discipline.   I will begin the presentation talking about my own personal story as a "successful student", who always got good grades, but never took risks or asked questions.  As a result of my education, I am a poor problem-solver and decision maker.  I feel my education has failed me.  Thanks for the inspiration and confidence to know that I am not the only one.  I know now not to take it personally! And I hope to take your teachings to my own classroom and spread the word! :)

Posted On 03-31-2006 10:19 AM
Your Name: Trisha Wilkerson
Email Address:
Organization: Institutions of Higher Learning
Location: Jackson, MS
How did you find our site?: internet search

You spoke at Southern Arkansas University back in 1996, I think, but I could not attend the lecture. My then-husband had fought for Howard Gardner and lost. So you came. I became intrigued with your ideas because at the age of 40 I was taking courses toward an elementary ed degree. I am still only half way after 10 years and a divorce.

But now I have spent a year as an elementary sub and a short time as a teacher assistant. What has been taught about classroom management is not working and I want things in my teacher's "bag of tricks" that will empower my future students to learn because of what the knowledge will do for them, not good or bad grades. If a student doesn't understand a concept (as shown on the test I gave), then why not revisit important lessons and then move on. Why force teachers to teach to the test and not the students?

That's my 2 cents worth. I am glad you speak up as you do. I haven't read any of your books (I have read articles on you), but I am making a list as I am now in a job that affords me going back to school and I will be taking some ed classes.

I hope to hear you live one of these days.

Posted On 03-23-2006 9:45 AM
Your Name: Holly Batsell
Email Address:
Organization: Sandra Day O'Connor High School
Location: Glendale, Arizona
How did you find our site?: The English Journal
Comment: Oh the irony! Just when I was getting comfortable memorizing standards and listing them on my lesson plans and posting them in my room--just when I found the rubric maker, "Rubistar," and delighted in designing rubrics for all occasions--I find your article, "The Trouble with Rubrics," in The English Journal. The first time I read it, I thought you were crazy. So I read it again just to be sure. Something in me responded to the use of rubrics for justification of grades. I teach AP Composition to juniors who want to know why they receive a B instead of an A on a piece of writing. I recognized myself in your article; I had bought into our district's complete and total trust in standards-based, grade level alligned instruction. I was so disturbed, in fact, that I went to the bookstore and bought your book, What Does it Mean to Be Well-Educated?--and my horror continued. This was not horror directed at you for your ideas; it was horror at myself for having given up what I believed to be truly valuable in teaching students--compassion, love of learning, critical thinking--and had bought the party line of standardization. I felt horror at how much I have conveyed to my own students about how important their grades are and how much class time I have devoted to "How to Take the AP Test" or "How to Write the SAT Essay." Granted, I innately choose material that encourages questioning and critical thinking in my students, but it is never about what is being done to them in their education. This is all because I did not know there was a voice of dissent regarding standards-based education. When I got my masters Degree in 1998, I was pretty much indoctrinated into the benfits of the standards movement and the AIMS test (Arizona's graduation requirement), and then I graduated with only part of the story, much like what we are doing to our own students. After 8 years outside of postsecondary education, I find it high time to renew my education, and I am starting with a curriculum of your books, Deborah Meier's books, and some of the studies and sources you cite in your writings. Another Idea I have is to form an inquiry group of teachers at my school so that we could read some of the research together, then discuss the ramifications of it in our own classrooms. Do you recommend any other sources for discussion? Thank you for helping me get this wool out of my eyes--it's been there for awhile.

Posted On 03-20-2006 12:29 PM
Your Name: Lynn Miller
Email Address:
Organization: Teacher
Location: Virginia
How did you find our site?: From the Language and Learning Conference at George Mason this past weekend

First let me say that I was very glad to give up a Saturday morning to sit and listen to your presentation at George Mason this past weekend, not because I don't value my Saturday's but because you have said what I've been secretly thinking.  I felt a "Call to Arms."

My twenty-year old daughter has not been educated and will leave High School in two years with even a more limited environment than she has in high school.  She was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome when she was 18 months old, but that diagnosis did not help educators understand how to educate Megan.  In fact, they have used so much time saying what she cannot do that they have left no room to explore what she can do--to the point that she cannot do much.  If I had known that this would have been the end product, I do not believe that public education would have been the route for my daughter.  Still, if there is anything I can do to improve services for other children like mine, at least that will bring some purpose to this disaster.  My daughter remains lost, swept under the carpet, and still mine.  Currently, her only option upon leaving high school is to sit at home waiting for a waiver to get her into the only Adult Activities Center in this area; the current wait list is said to last at least 14 years.

I am wondering if there is any document I can put in her hands that says that they should reflect on the disservice done to my daughter so that this does not happen to any other child.  IEP goals are too generic; time spent on Alternative Testing taking away from learning.

Oh, the irony of this situation is that I am a high school teacher who has taught Advanced Placement Literature and Composition for six years, and other various "levels" of English for a total of eighteen years.  I asked my principal today if I could go to the A or incomplete grading system mentioned this weekend, and she said that she'd like to see more research on it, but maybe.  I gave her copies of your work.

Lynn Miller

NVWP Teacher Consultant

English Teacher, AA, BLS, MALS, NBCT

Posted On 03-14-2006 8:35 AM
Your Name: Michael OClaire
Email Address:
Organization: U of W Childcare@West Campus
Location: University of Washington
How did you find our site?: Attended an Alfie Kohn keynote address
Comment: I am a Montessori primary 3 to 6 year old educator.  I had the benefit to attend a keynote address by Mr. Kohn in Seattle.  I was inspired by the specific topic of "choices for children"  The situation in my classroom is this: parental concern that their children are not getting enough nutrional value or food caloric intake from the hot lunch program at the school.  So working with the parents we are going to try a 10 minute silent beginning to the lunch period.  Well, whose choice was this to incorporate this rule, guideline or policy; the adults of course. Well I am e-mailing to inform other teachers and adults(I loved Alfie's Abigail story) that I am going to let go of control and incorporate the children into this lunchtime problem solving.  Wish me luck or less control.  i will update you later.

Posted On 03-11-2006 5:23 AM
Your Name: Gillian Andrews
Email Address:
Organization: North Parish School
Location: Greenfield, MA
How did you find our site?: Googled it!
Comment: I am a 4th grade teacher and in angst as the MCAS tests are looming ahead. I just won a teaching award and I have this deeper sense of guilt that I'm not treating each day with the passion that dwells in my teaching soul.Those tests certainly get in the way! I struggle with the balance of teaching test items and creating meaningful and creative lessons for my students to learn. Most of us deserve teaching awards. Can we do what we know what's right? Can we insist on presenting hands-on experiments where students ask themselves if magnetism and gravity are somehow connected? Why is it that the moon is not a magnet? Could it be because it has no iron? These are the questions I want my students to continue to ask. If they don't, I need to hand back my award and refuse to "teach" in the public schools where student's lives are being compromised. So, a message to all teachers: keep going. Keep doing what your heart is telling you to do. Sneak those mind-blowing lessons in. Inspire your students in the "having of wonderful ideas" and get on your hands and knees with them as we look at the "virtue of not knowing" (taken from Eleanor Ducksworth's "The Having of Wonderful Ideas". I know it's hard but we all must keep the faith, keep "the discipline of hope" and somehow, somehow feed our students. When we do that, we feed ourselves!

Posted On 03-09-2006 5:30 PM
Your Name: Linda J. Murno
Email Address:
Organization: Waterford High School
Location: Waterford, CT
How did you find our site?: Google search

Dr. Kohn is a highly recommended author by one of my professors in grad school (Elementary Educ.--Sacred Heart Univ., Connecticut).

Posted On 03-07-2006 8:05 AM
Your Name: Devin Peterson
Email Address:
Location: University of Minnesota-Duluth
How did you find our site?: Through presentation
Comment: I loved your speech about standardized testing and am considering writing a research paper for my composition class on it. Your website was very helpful in giving me a lot of useful information.

Posted On 03-03-2006 3:39 PM
Your Name: Laura Huertero
Email Address:
Organization: PSRC, high school teacher
Location: Fairmont, NC
How did you find our site?:
Comment: I agree with the vast majority of everything you say, Sr. Kohn.  But now what am I supposed to do about it?  I can ask the questions myself about what doesn't work and why it's not.  How on EARTH am I as a teacher supposed to combat the state-mandated stupidities and expectations?  And I have found that by the time students get to me in the 10th or 11th grade, they are resistant to anything BUT pedagogically unsound, boring, busywork.  I have made room for choice in as many ways as I can while still living up to my state-mandated responsibilities, and 95% of the time, my efforts are thwarted by apathy.  Maybe I've been too entrenched in the "let's do both!" attitude.  I'm feeling lost about now.

Posted On 03-02-2006 6:49 PM
Your Name: Diane
Email Address:
Organization: parent/ & tutor/ former elementary teacher
Location: Point Pleasant, NJ
How did you find our site?: book jacket
Comment: I read Punished by Rewards some years ago while on childcare leave from teaching.  I was thrilled with the ideas.  Students always LOVED playing learning games in class but I was always uncomfortable with the outcome--one (or one team) of winners and everyone else automatically becoming a "loser".  I was never much for sticker charts and the like, preferring to motivate students to love learning for the sake of learning.  I tried to approach teaching from Kohn's perspective and although far from mastering it I think I did less "damage" and hopefully achieved at least some of the worthwhile goals I sought.  What I need now are more concrete examples of how to parent unconditionally (just read that new book!).  I understand the premise but repetition is the mother of skill, and I need to know exactly how to handle common situations with my children.  I think I've done a GOOD job in the past but want to improve.  Can you, please, use more concrete examples in your books?  It would have helped my teaching as well!!  Thanks.

Posted On 02-27-2006 8:06 PM
Your Name: Chris
Location: Canada
How did you find our site?: did a websearch after reading some articles

I just read your article, "Test Today, Privatize Tomorrow," and am in agreement with your main arguments.  I think you're absolutely right about the duplicity involved in the right-wing attack on public education, and that "school vouchers" and the "No Child Left Behind" legislation will be a disaster.

Having said that, though, I do have a lot of cavils.  I feel that you've deeply misunderstood John T. Gatto's Harper's essay "Against School".  While I disagree with much of his analysis, I don't think he warrants an outright dismissal.  When you write that  "I can only assume that [Gatto] is using the word public in a way I don’t understand," I thought his meaning was perfectly clear.  Mandatory, compulsory schooling is NOT public the same way a public library or park is "public".  Nobody forces you to step foot in a library, ever.  It's your choice.  Thus, Gatto's attack on mandatory attendance laws is perfectly consistent with his claim to you that he doesn't support "the elimination of public education."  Au contraire, he simply wants it to be TRULY public in the same way a public library is authentically at the service of the public.  Far from eliminating public schools, we should alter them to make them more like libraries -- where, as Gatto so rightly points out, the librarian does not harrass you or belittle you, but DOES offer help IF and WHEN you request it.

You counter Gatto's indictment with the response that, "Our school system is indeed rooted in efforts to control. But the same indictment could be leveled, with equal justification, at other institutions. The history of newspapers, for example, and the intent of many powerful people associated with them, has much to do with manufacturing consent, marginalizing dissent, and distracting readers. But is that an argument for no newspapers or better newspapers?"

Here again, however, you have failed to properly address Gatto's argument.  Of course we don't want the elimination of newspapers!  However, again, the government does not and cannot force you to purchase a particular newspaper if you don't wish to.  While few people avail themselves of the right not to watch television, they DO have that right.  The same rights are NOT available when it comes to issues of schooling.  Did I waste my life in school?  Yes.  (When you write, "[Gatto] fails to name any defenders of public education who have ever claimed that it’s impossible for people to learn outside of school or to prosper without a degree," I think you're mistaken.  Nobody said that to me in precisely those words, but the implication was there -- nor did it once occur to me, or to anyone else I knew, that self-education was a realistic or remotely desirable option.  Gatto is much closer to the truth here than you are.)  Did I learn what I was supposed to?  Nope.  Do I accept any blame for this lamentable waste of my youth?  No -- I accept none.  I had no choice in the matter.   I did not waste my life -- my life was wasted for me -- and had I the freedom, I absolutely, and without question, would have used it well.  I know that for a fact.  To deny the culpability of the public school system is to deny plain and stark reality.  Contrary to your assertion that "by most conventional criteria, public schools have done surprisingly well in managing with limited resources to educate an increasingly diverse student population," they have in fact done nothing of the sort!  either in Canada or the U.S.  You are simply making a dogmatic assertion here, with no proof whatsoever.  (Berliner and Biddle's poorly argued book demands that I ignore the reality of my own experience, and trust manipulated, unconvincing statistics -- see Amazon reviews for what's wrong with their use of stats -- instead of my own eyes, ears, and memory of wasted time, talents, and resources.)  I don't deny there are rare and wonderful exceptions -- but the exceptions are precisely that.

So, in conclusion, a big No!  to handing education over to the private sector (which, after all, has been responsible for introducing a lot of bad ideas to the system, like making vocationalism instead of humanism the central goal of learning.)  But a big Yes to Gatto's insistence that public schools become GENUINE public services in the same way libraries are.  As it stands, schools are little more than glorified daycare centres.  It's almost like hanging out at the mall, vegging out while you wait for the day to be over.

Posted On 02-27-2006 1:58 PM
Your Name: Mrs. Elizabeth Savary
Email Address:
Organization: individual, grandmother
Location: Toronto, Ontario
How did you find our site?: was just checking to see what would come up if I punched your name in :)
Comment: Ive been a fan of Alfie Kohn's for decades & Im so glad I found his web site. .  When raising my own child and doing volunteer work with children, most people thought I had lost my senses whenI explained tthat I was against using rewards and punishments.   I would allow the children to decide for themselves  if they thought they had done their very best and deserved a  "reward,"   I knew the first time I read Alfie's books, that I had happened upon a real gem - a rightly-motivated person who had something to say, worth listening to.  It brings me much joy just to know of such a wise man at such a young age too.

Posted On 02-26-2006 8:59 AM
Your Name: Emma
Email Address:
Organization: high school student
Location: Chicago
How did you find our site?: google

I am commenting because I am a high school student. I am amazed and fascinated with this site, becuase I find myself often times thinking these same things. I think Alfie Kohn is making an important statement. As a student in the American education system I feel helpless. Our society places too much emphasis on grades and test scores. Teenagers today are under too much pressure and stress because of this. Parents and teachers often wonder why there has been an increase and drinking and drugs, and I think todays education system is a major contributant to these problems. At my current school, I can count on two hands the number of students left who do not engage in completely intoxicating themselves on the weekend. I would like to know what I can do? Is there any way to change the way things are?

Posted On 02-22-2006 6:18 PM
Your Name: Sammantha Carruthers
Email Address:
Comment: Great insight offered for motivation in business. Thank you-

Posted On 02-22-2006 12:01 PM
Your Name: Howie T.
Email Address:
Organization: undergrad ed. student
Location: Bloomington, IN
How did you find our site?: from book (case against testing)
Comment: As an undergraduate student we hear a lot of talk about the formal testing taking place in schools around the country, NCLB, and the standards we need to teach as future teachers.  Already so many of us can't stand these formal tests, and question what we can do.  The book, The Case Against Standardized Testing, and the website make educators and citizens feel more empowered, and do a great job of providing great evidence to back-up our arguments against these tests.

Posted On 02-20-2006 8:59 PM
Your Name: Margaret Hansen
Email Address:
Organization: parent and public primary teacher
Location: Indiana/ Texas
How did you find our site?: googled a. Kohn

I was thrilled to stumble across a copy of Alfie Kohn's book What Does It Mean to be Well Educated. The book put into words what had previously been my "gut" feeling about the state of public education, particuarly in Texas. My son started kindergarten this year and is already stressed out. We will be relocating to Houston, Texas soon and I am very much interested in finding an alternative school.  However, we are not a wealthy family and I am concerned that we will not be able to afford private school tuition. I was wondering if anyone knew of any schools in the Houston area that either set tuition on a sliding scale or offer scholarship, etc?

I recall visiting a Waldorf school in Austin, Texas when I was student teaching. I envision that type of curriculum for my son, however I remember being disturbed by the lack of diversity among the student body. The high tuition cost made it so that the student body was exclusively white and wealthy. Does a quality school exist in Houston or otherwise that is not exclusively available only to privledged children?

Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.  Again, I am lookking for an affordable, quality school in the Houston area.

Diversity is important to us

Posted On 02-17-2006 10:13 AM
Your Name: Nancy Whistance-Smith
Email Address:
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
How did you find our site?: Book Jacket

I am thankful that Alfie Kohn has put into words what many parents have felt instinctually for a long time:  that rewards and punishments don't work at all, and may even be doing a lot of long term damage to our children.

Anyone who enjoyed Alfie's book Unconditional Parenting,  may be interested in a Canadian author:  Dr. Gordon Neufeld.  Gordon Neufeld's work is complementary to Alfie Kohn's work and offers additional insight into the necessity of unconditional parenting for healthy child development.

Posted On 02-08-2006 7:18 PM
Your Name: Esther Coleman
Email Address:
Location: Fresno, CA
How did you find our site?: I went to one of Dr. Kohn's lectures
Comment: As a future teacher, I found the articles posted to be very informative.

Posted On 02-06-2006 12:46 PM
Your Name: Denise Merkel
Email Address:
Organization: Aidan Montessori School
Location: Washington, DC
How did you find our site?: back of book
Comment: We chose Unconditional Parenting as the book to read this year for our parenting education program. The group consists of 12 parents and myself and this is our third year of reading parenting books. We have found this one to be the most challenging: forcing us to reevaluate social/school norms. We have been excited by the correlation between the ideas presented in the book and the philosophy of our Montessori school. Those in the group have made major changes to their relationships with their children and feel that the best results of reading the book is to think about everything they do with them. Quite a big job!


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