What to Look for in a Classroom: And Other Essays

Alfie Kohn, Author
Alfie Kohn, Author Jossey-Bass $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7879-4453-7
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 09/01/1998
Renowned educator Kohn delivers an important, comprehensive collection of essays built around one central message: respect children and allow them to learn. Within these 19 pieces he discusses a variety of popular concepts. Character education, he dares announce, is usually designed ""to drill students in specific behaviors rather than to engage them in deep, critical reflection about certain ways of being."" Kohn abhors behavior modification of any kind, and such accepted tenets as star charts for acceptable behavior or pizza parties to entice readers are logically deflated in his attack on the whole range of extrinsic rewards. In his essay ""Students Don't `Work'--They Learn,"" he urges us to encourage intrinsic motivation through the passion for knowledge. ""In factory-like schools, you will often hear words like performance and achievement, rarely words like discovery or exploration or curiosity."" In contrast, Kohn insists, ""a learning-oriented classroom is more likely to be characterized by the thoughtful exploration of complicated issues than by a curriculum based on memorizing right answers."" At the conclusion of his title essay, which ends the collection, he offers a simple chart about classroom appearance that could in itself arm parents in America with enough information to change the course of their child's education. Kohn's message, if heeded, could inspire a productive revolution in America's fatigued regime of public education. (Nov.)
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!