Friday, September 17, 2010

Alfie Kohn Interview with Dr. Ross Greene

Here is a fantastic interview with Alfie Kohn.

Some highlights:

  • There is a big difference between working with kids and doing things to kids.
  • Punishing and rewarding are not only ineffective but they are also counter-productive in raising children.
  • We get lost in finding new techniques to gain compliance from children, when we really need to be clear of our ultimate goal - help children become ethical, caring people.
  • Kids who get rewards and praise tend to be less generous than their peers. Self-interest trumps caring for others.
  • No kid ever benefits from punishment.
  • There is a big difference between control and structure. Highly structured learning environments need not be controlled from the top-down. Students need to play an active and democratic role in forming the structure of the classroom.
  • The more we focus on just compliance, the more we will shuffle through an endless product line of gimmicks and tricks that will never achieve our ultimate goals.
  • Time-outs, or more accurately Forcibly Isolated, classrooms no longer feel safe. These classrooms become conditional and we all lose from these kinds of traditional, punitive interventions.
  • Not much learning takes place in a classroom that is too quiet.
  • Our classroom management techniques can be quite effective, but we must ask "effective at what?"
  • Kids make good decisions by making decisions not following directions.
  • Unconditional acceptance is at the heart of any good classroom.
  • The best teachers are those who make the curriculum worth learning.
  • Punishment by any name, even consequences, ruptures the safe and caring alliance that must be nourished between teacher and student.
  • Punishment is less about solving problems and more about revenge and inflicting pain and suffering.


  1. Thanks for the reminders. I tend to believe all of these things, but I have moments in my classroom when I fall back on old habits based mostly upon insecurity and a fear of looking incompetent as a teacher.

  2. For me , Alfie Kohn is the why and Ross Greene is the how. The CPS - collaborative problem solving for schools is described in Ross Greene's book

    see CPS videos , also for educators

  3. Thanks, I found Ross Greene's book about collaborative problem solving to be very helpful. It changed the way I interact with students in the classroom. Imposing adult ideas of control and power sometimes get in the way of creating meaningful opportunities for learning.

  4. Has anyone tried to do CPS and have it work really????? I have and found that most children tell you what they think you want to hear and then do what they want to anyway.


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