Why Do We Punish Children?

January 2013  Why Do We Punish Children? By Alfie Kohn Adapted from a four-part public exchange with Deborah Meier, beginning in January 2013, that appeared on Education Week‘s “Bridging Differences” blog. Whenever it appears that I disagree with someone, I like to begin by figuring out where we’ve parted company. Is our disagreement substantive or just a function of how … Read More

It’s Not What We Teach; It’s What They Learn (#)

EDUCATION WEEK September 10, 2008 It’s Not What We Teach; It’s What They Learn By Alfie Kohn I never understood all the fuss about that old riddle – “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear, does it still make a sound?”  Isn’t it just a question of how we choose to define the … Read More

Punitive Damages

From UNCONDITIONAL PARENTING: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason (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, to … Read More

Rethinking Character Education: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom about Camp and Kids

CAMPING MAGAZINE September/October 2003 Rethinking Character Education: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom About Camping & Kids By Alfie Kohn A substantial number of people believe that camps can do more than provide an opportunity to have fun:  They can also promote children’s social and moral growth. This explains the growing interest among American Camping Association members in the movement known as … Read More

The Case Against Gold Stars

PARENTS MAGAZINE October 1993 The Case Against Gold Stars By Alfie Kohn Call it the “gold-star syndrome.” Sometimes we paste stars on a chart. At other times we offer toys or extra TV, candy or cash, pizza or special privileges. We reward kids for doing what we want instead of punishing them for disobeying. Pull out a child-care book at … Read More