Beyond Discipline

From Compliance to Community

(Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1996/2006)

Beyond Discipline - Alfie Kohn

What is most remarkable about the assortment of discipline programs on the market today is the number of fundamental assumptions they seem to share. Some may advocate the use of carrots rather than sticks; some may refer to punishments as “logical consequences.” But virtually all take for granted that the teacher must be in control of the classroom, and that what we need are strategies to get students to comply with the adult’s expectations.

Alfie Kohn challenged these widely accepted premises, and with them the very idea of classroom “management,” when the original edition of Beyond Discipline was published in 1996. Since then, his path-breaking book has invited hundreds of thousands of educators to question the assumption that problems in the classroom are always the fault of students who don’t do what they’re told; instead, it may be necessary to reconsider what it is that they’ve been told to do – or to learn. Kohn shows how a fundamentally cynical view of children underlies the belief that we must tell them exactly how we expect them to behave and then offer “positive reinforcement” when they obey.

Just as memorizing someone else’s right answers fails to promote students’ intellectual development, so does complying with someone else’s expectations for how to act fail to help students develop socially or morally. Kohn contrasts the idea of discipline, in which things are done to students to control their behavior, with an approach in which we work with students to create caring communities where decisions are made together.

Beyond Discipline has earned the status of an education classic, a vital alternative to all the traditional manuals that consist of techniques for imposing control. For this 10th anniversary edition, Kohn adds a new afterword that expands on the book’s central themes and responds to questions from readers. Packed with stories from real classrooms around the country, seasoned with humor and grounded in a vision as practical as it is optimistic, Beyond Discipline shows how students are most likely to flourish in schools that have moved toward collaborative problem solving – and beyond discipline.

Table of Contents

1 The Nature of Children
2 Blaming the Kids
3 Bribes and Threats
4 Punishment Lite:  “Consequences” and Pseudochoice
5 How Not to Get Control of the Classroom
6 A Classroom of Their Choosing
7 The Classroom as Community
8 Solving Problems Together
Appendix 1:  Ten Questions
Appendix 2:  Assertive Discipline: A Glossary

“Provocative . . . His many vignettes, culled from classrooms across the country, lend dimension to…an excellent resource [that] … can transform classroom management practices.”

— Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology

 “This little book . . . [is] really about doing the essential work that will help democracy thrive.”

–NAIS Academic Forum

“Highly recommended for libraries, schools, and colleges, especially for those interested in creating learning communities.”

— Choice

 Beyond Discipline has been and continues to be one of the most important books to me and to the faculty I work with. The philosophy articulated in the book has transformed the entire culture of our junior high school.

— Charles Glassman, New York, NY

After teacher candidates in my class read the first few chapters [of Beyond Discipline], they are always mad: ‘Who does that Kohn guy think he is?’ After the next couple of chapters: ‘Oh, maybe that Kohn guy knows something.’ After they finish the book, they’re on the bandwagon and committed to creating communities in their classrooms.

— Linda Neiman, teacher educator

Where to buy it

To order Beyond Discipline,

call the publisher, ASCD, at 800-933-2723 or  click here