Alfie Kohn Power Point - CI204

Written By: Alfie Kohn
Presentation By: Kelly Healy,
Molly Maubach, Natalia
Klocek, Keelin Funk, Alexis
Who is Alfie Kohn?
 An
American author of
education, parenting, and
human behavior.
 Kohn goes against
common theories of
behavior, which has made
him a controversial figure in
educational practices.
What are Kohn’s views on
classroom management?
Uses a constructivist view of learning.
Students should have an active voice in the classroom with the ability to
have a meaningful impact on the curriculum, structure of the room,
and any necessary discipline measures, among other things.
Discipline actively interferes with what students are trying to accomplish.
“Children learn to make good decisions, by making decisions, not by
following directions.”
A right-answer focus does not help children become good thinkers,
creating an open classroom environment, where students can freely
express their opinion.
The alternative to disciplining your students “requires we transform the
classroom, give up some power, and reconsider the way we define and
think about misbehavior”
In short, Kohn thinks that learning itself should be the reward, there
doesn’t need to be an outside reward or students will begin to expect
rewards for everything.
Adapting Kohn’s Theory
A more successful classroom
will have students learning
about their personal interests.
If a student understands the
thinking behind a positive or
negative behavior, then the
student is more likely to act
accordingly without needing
the reassurance of praise.
Middle/High School
The teacher can guide his or
her students through the
research process, and by
picking their own topics, the
students will be immersed in
the learning.
The students should learn to
be responsible for their own
behavior whether or not it is
recognized or rewarded by
somebody else.
Taken from:
Kohn’s controversial views on
Homework has no academic benefit.
Learning should consist of projects, questions, and
“Just as memorizing someone else's right answers fails
to promote students' intellectual development, so
does complying with someone else's expectations for
how to act fail to help students develop socially or
“You can’t reinforce understanding; you can only
reinforce behaviors.”
“The kids who already understand the concept are
wasting their time after one or two problems, while
those who don’t understand are cementing in their
misconceptions, feeling stupid, or figuring out how to
pretend to understand when they don’t.”
Why are Alfie Kohn’s views on
homework controversial?
Kohn has not taught since 1985. Many people
criticize him for this because so much has changed in
the classroom since then.
Alfie Kohn doesn’t believe in homework, but believes
in beneficial homework. Who determines what
makes something beneficial?
Other teachers believe that homework provides
practice, Kohn disagrees.
Kohn’s theories are controversial because they go
against the traditional style of teaching, the style that
has been used for centuries.
Many people are set in their ways, people believe
that the education system works, so why change it.
Not many teachers use this theory, however he has
written books if teachers are interested in learning.
Interview with a Professional
 Name:
Breanne Healy
 Position: 2nd Grade Teacher
 Years Experience: 1st year teacher
 She does not teach following Alfie
Kohn’s “Beyond Discipline”, but we
did ask a few questions on her
opinion of some of his theories.
Describe your initial classroom
management ideas
Negative reinforcement plan for individual
student in classroom: Stoplight, everyday
each student starts on green, no matter their
position the day before. 1st misbehavior =
move clip to yellow (student receives a
warning) 2nd misbehavior = fill out behavior
Behavior form= student fills out at school
about what student did wrong, and how they
can fix it. They must sign it and bring it home,
where a parent/guardian must sign it, and the
student will bring it back the next day.
Classroom Management
 Positive
reinforcement (class as a whole)
marble jar, when the jar is filled the whole
class will be rewarded.
 Positive reinforcement for individual in
class; she has cards that say Miss Healy
caught you being good, when a student
collects ten of these cards they can
exchange them for a prize.
What changed?
 After
starting teaching, she soon
realized that when the students
moved their clip to the yellow
stoplight, most students weren’t
taking the warning seriously. She
eventually changed the system so
when a student gets moved to
yellow, they have to spend the first 5
minutes of recess sitting in the
classroom silently, this seemed to
help and there are a lot fewer
students on yellow now.
Miss Healy’s views on some of
Alfie Kohn’s theories
Homework: Disagree, homework has a
benefit to the students because it reinforces
the concept, however, it does depend of
the type and amount of homework given;
Busy work and hours of homework are not
going to benefit her students. Her school’s
general rule on homework is that what ever
grade the student is in multiplied by 10 is
how many minutes of homework the
student should have over all. Monday
through Thursday (Ex. 2nd grade x 10 = 20
minutes of homework a night)
Kohn states ““It requires we transform the
classroom, give up some power, and
reconsider the way we define and think about
 Miss Healy agrees that as teachers,
we must give up some power and
allow the students to be a part of
their own learning, she also believes
that misbehavior isn’t always a bad
thing, because it allows the students
to learn from their mistakes and
guides them into becoming a better
person and understanding social
What is the “best strategy”?
Miss Healy: There is no “best strategy” Every year you
will have a different group of students that will have
different knowledge, skills, learning styles,
background, and behaviors. You cannot choose
one strategy that will work with all students;
Something might work great one year and not work
the next year. She has found with her students this
year that focusing on the good behaviors instead of
the bad is really helpful. (Ex. I really like the way table
3 is sitting quietly with their books out ready to start
our math lesson.) This seems to motivate the students
and their classmates to try harder. Also depending
on the situation and child, calling a student out on a
minor behavior is helpful to that specific student on
getting back on track. (Ex. John please keep your
eyes on your own paper.)
short, Kohn thinks that learning
itself should be the reward, there
doesn’t need to be an outside
reward or students will begin to
expect rewards for everything.
A few video examples
Our Analysis
Although the majority of our research proves
that most educators do not agree with Kohn’s
ideas for the classroom, we agree with many of
his ideas. Kohn’s views on homework involve his
belief that if it is not an actual practice of what
was taught, there is no point in the students
doing the assignment. We agree that busy
work is not beneficial for the students. For
example, a lot of us remember our teachers
giving us word searches to do in class. Thinking
back, what is the purpose of a word search?
There is no learning involved, so it isn’t beneficial
to the students. Alfie Kohn also said that
projects, questions and problems are more
useful to the students.
Analysis continued…
We agree that these forms of assessment prove what
the students have learned. Asking questions to see
what the students have learned or already know is a
good way to formatively assess. We also agree with
Kohn’s views on classroom discipline. Developing a
set of rules at the beginning of the year as a class is a
good idea because the students are the ones
making the rules. Since the students set the rules,
they understand them and expect each other to
follow them. This way, the teacher should not have
to reinforce the rules or expectations in the classroom
because the students actively participated in
designing them. Classroom set up can also be
student involved so that they are most comfortable
in the classroom.
Learning More about
Alfie Kohn
Written by Alfie Kohn
Can be purchased at your local book store or
online for approximately $14. Or you can buy his
DVD (No grades + no homework= better learning)
for $29.95.
This theory is not very popular and this book is and
his website
are the two easiest ways to get information.
If you go on his website, you can find a list of his
scheduled speaking engagements to attend a
lecture of him speaking about his theories.
We believe this is why his theory is not popular
amongst teachers and administrators.
Alfie Kohn on Punishment. (n.d.). Retrieved 11 7, 2011, from YouTube:
Alfie Kohn vs Dwight Schrute. (n.d.). Retrieved 11 7, 2011, from YouTube:
Choo, K. Y. (n.d.). Education Reform: Beyond Discipline. Retrieved 11 7,
2011, from
Classroom Management Theorists and Theories/Alfie Kohn. (n.d.).
Retrieved 11 5, 2011, from Wikibooks:
Healy, B. (2011, 11 3). Classroom Management. (K. Healy, Interviewer)
Kohn, A. (1996). Beyond Discipline. Alexandria: Association for
Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Vail, K. (2007). Battling 'Myths': A Q&A with author Alfie Kohn. American
School Board Journal, 194(2), 32-33.