And it was later still before I could admit that I didn't blame them. The problem wasn't with the students — it was my curriculum and my reliance on textbooks. Both rewards and punishments, says Punished by Rewards author Alfie Kohn, are ways of manipulating behavior that destroy the potential for. PDF | Kohn's No Contest reviews empirical research on competition. In fact, much work has been done to determine whether competition is better than.

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INDEPENDENT SCHOOL. Spring Progressive Education. Why It's Hard to Beat, But Also Hard to Find. By Alfie Kohn. If progressive education doesn't lend. by Afie Kohn. Many educators are acutely aware that punishment and threats are counterproductive. Making children suffer in order to alter their future behavior. No Contest: The Case Against Competition. Alfie Kohn. The "Number One" Obsession. Life for us has become an endless succession of contests. From the.

Outstanding classrooms and schools -- with a rich documentary record of their successes -- show that the quality of education itself can be improved. But books, articles, TED talks, and teacher-training sessions devoted to the wonders of adopting a growth mindset rarely bother to ask whether the curriculum is meaningful, whether the pedagogy is thoughtful, or whether the assessment of students' learning is authentic as opposed to defining success merely as higher scores on dreadful standardized tests.


Advertisement: Small wonder that this idea goes down so easily. All we have to do is get kids to adopt the right attitude, to think optimistically about their ability to handle whatever they've been given to do. Even if, quite frankly, it's not worth doing. Google the words "praise" and "effort" together: more than 70 million hits.

It's a verbal reward, an extrinsic inducement, and, like other rewards, is often construed by the recipient as manipulation.

A substantial research literature has shown that the kids typically end up less interested in whatever they were rewarded or praised for doing, because now their goal is just to get the reward or praise. What kids actually need from us, along with nonjudgmental feedback and guidance, is unconditional support -- the antithesis of a patronizing pat on the head for having jumped through our hoops. The solution, therefore, goes well beyond a focus on what's being praised -- that is, merely switching from commending ability to commending effort.

Praise for the latter is likely to be experienced as every bit as controlling and conditional as praise for the former. Tellingly, the series of Dweck's studies on which she still relies to support the idea of praising effort, which she conducted with Claudia Mueller in the s, included no condition in which students received nonevaluative feedback.

Other researchers have found that just such a response -- information about how they've done without a judgment attached -- is preferable to any sort of praise. We need to attend to deeper differences: between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, and between "doing to" and "working with" strategies.

Why Incentive Plans Cannot Work

Unfortunately, we're discouraged from thinking about these more meaningful distinctions -- and from questioning the whole carrot-and-stick model of which praise is an example -- when we're assured that it's sufficient just to offer a different kind of carrot. A study found that when students whose self-worth hinges on their performance face the prospect of failure, it doesn't help for them to adopt a growth mindset.

In fact, those who did so were even more likely to give themselves an excuse for screwing up -- a strategy known as "self-handicapping" -- as compared to those with the dreaded fixed mindset.

Advertisement: Even when a growth mindset doesn't make things worse, it can help only so much if students have been led -- by things like grades, tests, and, worst of all, competition -- to become more focused on achievement than on the learning itself.

Training them to think about effort more than ability does nothing to address the fact, confirmed by several educational psychologists, that too much emphasis on performance undermines intellectual engagement.

A Critical Pedagogy of Resistance pp Cite as.

Although Alfie Kohn is a major proponent of progressive and constructivist thought, he has also contributed to the field of critical pedagogy as a critic of traditional practices used in public education.

Kohn holds a B. Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF. Skip to main content. Advertisement Hide.

Alfie Kohn Critic of Traditional Schooling. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves. This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Christensen, L. For example, in this Education Week piece , Kohn questions the value of homework.

This summary does not correspond with the conclusions of most researchers, see, for example, this review of the homework literature. Kohn also argues that two common justifications for homework—to automatize skills and to provide practice time for mastery—are based on flawed assumptions. Kohn claims that time on task is not important to learning, and that the only skills that can be automatized are behavioral, that is, physical responses such as a golf swing. It gets them to conform to our wishes irrespective of what those wishes are.

Kohn also argues that praise and rewards for good behavior are destructive to motivation. The truth is actually somewhat more complicated.

Rewards can reduce motivation, but only when motivation was somewhat high to start with. If the student is unmotivated to perform some task, rewarding him will not hurt his motivation. There is important psychological work showing that the role of praise and reward is complex. Carol Dweck is a leader in this field and her book, Mindset , provides a good overview. In a recent piece in the Phi Delta Kappan , Kohn argues that self-discipline has been over-sold, and indeed, that it has a dark side—too much self-control may be associated with anxiety, compulsiveness, and dampened emotional responses.

He notes that some researchers put few or no qualifications on their enthusiasm for self-control, essentially arguing that more is always better. They define self-control as the ability to marshal your cognitive and emotional resources to help you attain goals that you consider important.

Kohn defines self-control as using willpower to accomplish things that are generally regarded as desirable.O JI ral Ea. And the kids themselves are seldom consulted about what they're doing, even though genuine excitement about and proficiency at learning rises when they're brought into the process, invited to search for answers to their own questions and to engage in extended projects.

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Why Rewards Don’t Work

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