Pushed Too Hard – (Lecture Topic)

PUSHED TOO HARD:  Parenting in an Achievement-Crazy Culture What does it mean to say we want our kids to be "successful"? In some neighborhoods, that word translates as making higher grades and test scores than other people's children . . . so they'll be accepted by elite colleges . . . so they'll get high-paying jobs . . . so ... Read More

Trophy Fury: What’s Behind Claims that Kids Are Coddled and Overcelebrated?

NEW YORK TIMES May 4, 2014 Trophy Fury What's Behind Claims that Kids Are Coddled and Overcelebrated? By Alfie Kohn [This is an expanded version of the published article, which was titled "Do Our Kids Get Off Too Easy?" and adapted from The Myth of the Spoiled Child.] The last time I checked, a web search for the phrases "everyone gets ... Read More

So What SHOULD Parents Do?

“If rewards and punishments just make things worse, what should parents do?” The question is perfectly reasonable yet very difficult to answer in a simple and satisfying way. That’s true, first, because everything depends on how the question ends: What should parents do . . . to make kids obey? (If we’re really looking for how to get mindless . . . (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

Atrocious Advice from “Supernanny” (#)

THE NATION May 23, 2005 Atrocious Advice from "Supernanny" By Alfie Kohn [This is a slightly expanded version of the published article, which was titled "Supernanny State."]  Pour lire cet article en français, cliquer ici. Para ler esse artigo em Português, clique aqui A despot welcomes a riot. Disorder provides an excuse to rescind liberties in order to restore calm. There are ... Read More

The Folly of Merit Pay (**)

EDUCATION WEEK September 17, 2003 The Folly of Merit Pay By Alfie Kohn There's no end to the possible uses for that nifty little Latin phrase Cui bono?, which means: Who benefits? Whose interests are served? It's the right question to ask about a testing regimen guaranteed to make most public schools look as though they're failing. Or about the assumption ... Read More

Five Reasons to Stop Saying “Good Job!” (**)

YOUNG CHILDREN September 2001 Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!" By Alfie Kohn NOTE: An abridged version of this article was published in Parents magazine in May 2000 with the title "Hooked on Praise." For a more detailed look at the issues discussed here -- as well as a comprehensive list of citations to relevant research -- please see the books Punished ... Read More

What Works Better than Traditional Math Instruction

From Chapter 9: "Getting the 3 R's Right" in The Schools Our Children Deserve (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999) What Works Better than Traditional Math Instruction Why the Basics Just Don’t Add Up By Alfie Kohn The still-dominant Old School model begins with the assumption that kids primarily need to learn “math facts”:  the ability to say “42” as soon as they hear ... Read More

Addendum to “Suffer the Restless Children”

From What to Look for in a Classroom…and Other Essays (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998) Addendum to “Suffer the Restless Children” By Alfie Kohn I wish I could say that the article you have just read is now only of historical interest.  Alas, in the decade since it was written, we have witnessed an even greater tendency to throw around the ADHD label, ... Read More

Only for My Kid: How Privileged Parents Undermine School Reform (*)

What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon, it destroys our democracy.

— John Dewey, School and Society
Mike McClaren, a superintendent in Oklahoma, was attracted to the idea of a “performance-based” curriculum: . . . (Read More)