Show 197: Alfie Kohn

This interview was originally aired in part on February 2, 2007.

From Wikipedia: “Alfie Kohn is an American lecturer and author in the fields of education, psychology and parenting, residing in Belmont, Massachusetts. He is an outspoken critic of American work place management, public education and parenting techniques. Kohn having been an educator himself has written many books on education. Probably the most comprehensive being The Schools our Children Deserve. However he has reserved the most attention from his stance on the trend toward pervasive standardized testing and excessive homework. He has written several books attacking “common sense” notions about competition, rewards, and parenting.

“On the home front, Kohn has challenged parents in Beyond Discipline: from Compliance to Community and Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason to give up the “because I’m the Mom” mode of parenting and switch to a cooperative, loving, guiding form of parenting which places children on more equal footing with parents.”

His latest book is called The Homework Myth.

In The Homework Myth, Kohn argues that:

1) There is no evidence that homework provides benefits in elementary school

2) In high school, any correlation effects are small, or disappear when compensating for other effects

3) Analysis of 50 countries shows no positive relationship with homework, and

4) No studies support claims of developing good work habits or other personal traits.

Alfie Kohn’s critique of the role of competition in our society is a really impressive piece of work. Challenging and thoughtful, it reaches to the heart of many problems of our social life and the ideology that constrains and distorts it. — Noam Chomsky

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