Parrot Math

“Hey, if it was bad enough for me, it’s bad enough for my kids”: Many of us cheerfully acknowledge that we’ve always hated math or were never any good at it.  In the next breath, though, we may insist that our children be taught the same way we were – with an emphasis on memorizing . . . (Read More)

Close the Book on ‘Book It!’

I once asked the late John Nicholls, an expert on motivation and achievement, for his assessment of Pizza Hut’s “Book It!” program, which uses fast food as a reward for reading.  Nicholls dryly observed that the most likely result would be “a lot of fat kids who don’t like to read.”  This spring I join . . . (Read More)

Rethinking Homework

PRINCIPAL January/February 2007 Rethinking Homework By Alfie Kohn [For a more detailed look at the issues discussed here -- including a comprehensive list of citations to relevant research and a discussion of successful efforts to effect change-- please see the book The Homework Myth.] After spending most of the day in school, children are typically given additional assignments to be completed ... Read More

Kohn et al. v. Massachusetts DOE

Back around the turn of the century (ca. 2000), I was invited to deliver the keynote address at an education conference in western Massachusetts that brought together people from regular public schools and charter schools to address issues they all faced.  The organizers decided that one such issue was the pressure on students and teachers caused by . . . (Read More)

The Trouble with Rubrics (#)

ENGLISH JOURNAL March 2006 -- vol. 95, no. 4 The Trouble with Rubrics By Alfie Kohn Once upon a time I vaguely thought of assessment in dichotomous terms:  The old approach, which consisted mostly of letter grades, was crude and uninformative, while the new approach, which included things like portfolios and rubrics, was detailed and authentic.  Only much later did ... Read More

Punitive Damages

 From UNCONDITIONAL PARENTING: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason (New York: Atria, 2005) Punitive Damages By Alfie Kohn … To punish kids, very simply, is to make something unpleasant happen to them -- or prevent them from experiencing something pleasant – usually with the goal of changing their future behavior.  The punisher makes them suffer, in other words, ... Read More

The (Progressive) Schools Our Children Deserve

SCHOOLS: Studies in Education Fall 2005 The (Progressive) Schools Our Children Deserve By Alfie Kohn [This is a transcript of the keynote address for a conference on progressive education sponsored by the School in Rose Valley and held at Swarthmore College on October 7, 2004.] I’m delighted to be with what I will presumptuously assume is a friendly crowd, such ... Read More

Challenging Students . . . And How to Have More of Them (#)

PHI DELTA KAPPAN November 2004 Challenging Students . . . And How to Have More of Them By Alfie Kohn Learning by doing, a common shorthand for the idea that active participation helps students to understand ideas or acquire skills, is an established principle of progressive education. Much less attention, however, has been paid to the complementary possibility that teachers ... Read More

Falls Church School Won’t Teach to the Test

Washington Post Tuesday, October 12, 2004; Page B01 Falls Church School Won't Teach to the Test By Marc Fisher Teachers grumble and moan about how politicians' love affair with tests has turned education into a grim mission to teach creative young minds how to darken the ovals completely and neatly. Parents complain about the lost arts and athletics, the exciting ... Read More

State-Mandated Testing: Why We Opt Out

EDUCATION WEEK March 12, 2003 State-Mandated Testing: Why We Opt Out When it comes to testing mandates, we exercise our rights as parents to protect our children from activities not in their interests. By Catherine Ross Hamel & Fred L. Hamel When district- or state-mandated testing comes around in our children's public schools, we opt out. We inform our kids' ... Read More