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Kohn's central message is that standardized tests are not a force of nature but a force of politics and political decisions can be questioned, challenged, and ultimately reversed.
Mind-opening writing on what kids need from school, from one of education's most outspoken voices. Arguing that our schools are currently in the grip of a "cult of rigor"--a confusion of harder with better that threatens to banish both joy and meaningful intellectual inquiry from our classrooms--Alfie Kohn issues a stirring call to rethink our priorities and reconsider our practices. Kohn's latest wide-ranging collection of writings will add to his reputation as one of the most incisive thinkers in the field, who questions the assumptions too often taken for granted in discussions about education and human behavior. In nineteen recently published essays--and in a substantive introduction, new for this volume--Kohn repeatedly invites us to think more deeply about the conventional wisdom. Is self-discipline always desirable? he asks, citing surprising evidence to the contrary. Does academic cheating necessarily indicate a moral failing? Might inspirational posters commonly found on school walls (Reach for the stars!) reflect disturbing assumptions about children? Could the use of rubrics for evaluating student learning prove counterproductive? Subjecting young children to homework, grades, or standardized tests--merely because these things will be required of them later--reminds Kohn of Monty Python's "getting hit on the head lessons." And, with tongue firmly in cheek, he declares that we should immediately begin teaching twenty-second-century skills. Whether Kohn is clearing up misconceptions about progressive education or explaining why incentives for healthier living are bound to backfire, debunking the idea that education reform should be driven by concerns about economic competitiveness or putting "Supernanny" in her place, his readers will understand why the Washington Post has said that "teachers and parents who encounter Kohn and his thoughts come away transfixed, ready to change their schools."
So why do we continue to administer this modern cod liver oil-or even demand a larger dose? Kohn's incisive analysis reveals how a set of misconceptions about learning and a misguided focus on competitiveness has left our kids with less free time, and our families with more conflict. Pointing to stories of parents who have fought back-and schools that have proved educational excellence is possible without homework-Kohn demonstrates how we can rethink what happens during and after school in order to rescue our families and our children's love of learning.
Kohn makes a sound argument against competition, and in favor of cooperation, as a healthy approach to social behavior.
The basic strategy we use for raising children, teaching students, and managing workers can be summarized in six words: Do this and you'll get that. We dangle goodies (from candy bars to sales commissions) in front of people in much the same way we train the family pet. Drawing on a wealth of psychological research, Alfie Kohn points the way to a more successful strategy based on working with people instead of doing things to them. "Do rewards motivate people?" asks Kohn. "Yes. They motivate people to get rewards." Seasoned with humor and familiar examples, Punished By Rewards presents an argument unsettling to hear but impossible to dismiss.
In this "lively, provocative and well-researched book" (Theodore Sizer), AlTe Kohn builds a powerful argument against the "back to basics" philosophy of teaching and simplistic demands to "raise the bar." Drawing on stories from real classrooms and extensive research, Kohn shows parents, educators, and others interested in the debate how schools can help students explore ideas rather than filling them with forgettable facts and preparing them for standardized tests. Here at last is a book that challenges the two dominant forces in American education: an aggressive nostalgia for traditional teaching ("If it was bad enough for me, it's bad enough for my kids") and a heavy-handed push for Tougher Standards.
Most parenting guides begin with the question "How can we get kids to do what they're told?" and then proceed to offer various techniques for controlling them. In this truly groundbreaking book, nationally respected educator Alfie Kohn begins instead by asking, "What do kids need -- and how can we meet those needs?" What follows from that question are ideas for working with children rather than doing things to them. One basic need all children have, Kohn argues, is to be loved unconditionally, to know that they will be accepted even if they screw up or fall short. Yet conventional approaches to parenting such as punishments (including "time-outs"), rewards (including positive reinforcement), and other forms of control teach children that they are loved only when they please us or impress us. Kohn cites a body of powerful, and largely unknown, research detailing the damage caused by leading children to believe they must earn our approval. That's precisely the message children derive from common discipline techniques, even though it's not the message most parents intend to send. More than just another book about discipline, though, Unconditional Parenting addresses the ways parents think about, feel about, and act with their children. It invites them to question their most basic assumptions about raising kids while offering a wealth of practical strategies for shifting from "doing to" to "working with" parenting -- including how to replace praise with the unconditional support that children need to grow into healthy, caring, responsible people. This is an eye-opening, paradigm-shattering book that will reconnect readers to their own best instincts and inspire them to become better parents.
Kohn takes on the recent trend to stress grades and standardized testing in American schools. He compares getting an education to getting through the system, and finds that frustration and lack of real achievement grow in parallel when students are schooled rather than educated. The results, he believes, include a population more likely to be violent and less likely to think reasonably through issues and situations. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)
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