Competitiveness vs. Excellence: The Education Crisis That Isn’t (##)

“What’s the matter with us?” demands Bob Herbert in his August 7 New York Times column. “The latest dismal news on the leadership front” proving that we’ve become “a nation of nitwits” comes courtesy of a report from the College Board, he says. “At a time when a college education is needed more than ever to establish . . . (Read More)

Getting Rid of Grades: Case Studies

Given that most schools still send home report cards with letter or number grades, and most teachers still put these letters or numbers on students’ individual assignments, you would never guess that most studies of the effects of grades find that they’re destructive in multiple ways.
For nearly a century, in fact, educators have been pointing . . . (Read More)

Ted Sizer and Jerry Bracey: An Appreciation

The field of education lost two great men in October. Ted Sizer and Jerry Bracey were distinguished by the issues that animated them and the way they pursued their respective interests, but each made such an enormous contribution that his death leaves us bereft.
In person, Ted Sizer was good-humored and gracious to a fault. Unlike those people . . . (Read More)

Twenty-first Century Skills? It Depends What You Mean…

About a year ago, I was invited to write a chapter for an education anthology on the subject of “21st-century skills.” I replied as follows: “To be perfectly honest, I’m never sure what’s meant by the phrase ’21st century’ when it’s used as a modifier for ‘skills,’ ‘standards,’ or ‘schooling.’ The stuff that interests me, such as . . . (Read More)

More Evidence That Incentives Fail

Punished by Rewards is surely the only book from which excerpts were simultaneously published in Parents magazine and the Harvard Business Review – evidence of how pervasive is our culture’s embrace of pop-behaviorism. In the family, the workplace, and the classroom, more-powerful people try to control less-powerful people by dangling some sort of reward in front of them if . . . (Read More)

Beware of School “Reformers”

THE NATION December 29, 2008 Beware of School “Reformers” By Alfie Kohn  “If we taught babies to talk as most skills are taught in school, they would memorize lists of sounds in a predetermined order and practice them alone in a closet.” -- Linda Darling-Hammond Political progressives are in short supply on the president-elect’s list of cabinet nominees.  When he ... Read More

Por Qué Está Sobrevalorada La Autodisciplina

PHI DELTA KAPPAN Noviembre 2008 Por qué está sobrevalorada la autodisciplina La (inquietante) teoría y práctica del control desde dentro Por Alfie Kohn Si hay un rasgo del carácter por cuyos beneficios hayan abogado tanto los educadores tradicionales como los progresistas, bien pudiera ser la autodisciplina. Casi todo el mundo quiere que los estudiantes hagan caso omiso de sus impulsos ... Read More

Teachers Who Refuse to Hand Out the Tests

What if they gave a test and nobody came? Or what if all the students came, but the teachers refused to give them a test? The civil rights movement succeeded not only because good laws were eventually passed (mandating desegregation) but because ordinary people refused to obey bad laws. Rather than just complaining about policies . . . (Read More)

Are Fewer Young People Reading for Pleasure?

Several years ago, a teacher who regularly invited her students to “drop everything and read” their favorite books was asked by a colleague whether she was still setting aside class time for that purpose. She replied, “We haven’t been doing any reading since we started preparing the kids for the reading test.”
That response says as . . . (Read More)