Don't let anyone tell you that standardized tests are not accurate measures. The truth of the matter is they offer a remarkably precise method for gauging the size of the houses near the school where the test was administered.

— Alfie Kohn

The most genuine Alfie Kohn quotes that will activate your inner potential

Children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions.


Educational success should be measured by how strong your desire is to keep learning.


If I offered you a thousand dollars to take off your shoes, you'd very likely accept--and then I could triumphantly announce that 'rewards work.' But as with punishments, they can never help someone develop a *commitment* to a task or action, a reason to keep doing it when there's no longer a payoff.


Educators remind us that what counts in a classroom is not what the teacher teaches; it’s what the learner learns.


Whoever said there's no such thing as a stupid question never looked carefully at a standardized test.


Each time I visit such a classroom, where the teacher is more interested in creating a democratic community than in maintaining her position of authority, I’m convinced all over again that moving away from consequences and rewards isn’t just realistic - it’s the best way to help kids grow into good learners and good people.


In a word, learning is decontextualized.

We break ideas down into tiny pieces that bear no relation to the whole. We give students a brick of information, followed by another brick, followed by another brick, until they are graduated, at which point we assume they have a house. What they have is a pile of bricks, and they don't have it for long.


The Legacy of Behaviorism: Do this and you'll get that.


To be well-educated is to have the desire as well as the means to make sure that learning never ends.


Sometimes we have to put our foot down, .

.. but before we deliberately make children unhappy in order to get them to get into the car, or to do their homework or whatever, we need to weigh whether what we're doing to make it happen is worth the possible strain on our relationship with them.


We have so much to cover and so little time to cover it.

Howard Gardner refers to curriculum coverage as the single greatest enemy of understanding. Think instead about ideas to be discovered.


You have to give them unconditional love.

They need to know that even if they screw up, you love them. You don't want them to grow up and resent you or, even worse, parent the way you parented them.


About Alfie Kohn

Quotes 69 sayings
Profession Author
Birthday October 15, 1957

When test scores go up, we should worry, because of how poor a measure they are of what matters, and what you typically sacrifice in a desperate effort to raise scores.


Those who know they're valued irrespective of their accomplishments often end up accomplishing quite a lot. It's the experience of being accepted without conditions that helps people develop a healthy confidence in themselves, a belief that it's safe to take risks and try new things.


Social psychology has found the more you reward people for doing something, the more they tend to lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward.


If unconditional love and genuine enthusiasm are present, praise isn't necessary. If they're absent, praise won't help.


Punishments erode relationships and moral growth.


Most of us would protest that of course we love our children without any strings attached. But what counts is how things look from the perspective of the children


A preoccupation with achievement is not only different from, but often detrimental to, a focus on learning. Thoughts and emotions while performing an action are more important in determining subsequent engagement than the actual outcome of that action.


Unconditional parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason.


Very few things are as dangerous as a bunch of incentive-driven individuals trying to play it safe.


Punishment and reward proceed from basically the same psychological model, one that conceives of motivation as nothing more than the manipulation of behavior.


Standardized testing has swelled and mutated, like a creature in one of those old horror movies, to the point that it now threatens to swallow our schools whole.


Trying to be number one and trying to do a task well are two different things.


The late W. Edwards Deming, guru of Quality management, once declared, 'The most important things we need to manage can't be measured.' If that’s true of what we need to manage, it should be even more obvious that it’s true of what we need to teach.


Grades are a subjective rating masquerading as an objective evaluation.


If rewards do not work, what does? I recommend that employers pay workers well and fairly and then do everything possible to help them forget about money. A preoccupation with money distracts everyone - employers and employees - from the issues that really matter.


Assessments should compare the performance of students to a set of expectations, never to the performance of other students.


Being a team player should not imply a demand for simple obedience and conformity.


Trying to do well and trying to beat others are two different things.

Excellence and victory are conceptually distinct . . . and are experienced differently.


John Dewey reminded us that the value of what students do 'resides in its connection with a stimulation of greater thoughtfulness, not in the greater strain it imposes.


When we do things that are controlling, whether intentional or not, we are not going to get those long-term outcomes.


If faculty would relax their emphasis on grades, this might serve not to lower standards but to encourage an orientation toward learning.


We learn most readily, most naturally, most effectively, when we start with the big picture - precisely when the basics don't come first.


If a child is off-task...mayb e the problem is not the child...maybe it's the task.


How we feel about our kids isn't as important as how they experience those feelings and how they regard the way we treat them.


Non-cooperative approaches, by contrast, almost always involve duplication of effort, since someone working independently must spend time and skills on problems that already have been encountered and overcome by someone else. A technical hitch, for example, is more likely to be solved quickly and imaginatively if scientists (including scientists from different countries) pool their talents rather than compete against one another.


In outstanding classrooms, teachers do more listening than talking, and students do more talking than listening. Terrific teachers often have teeth marks on their tongues.


We can't value only what is easy to measure;

measurable outcomes may be the least important results of learning.


There are different kinds of motivation, and the kind matters more than the amount.


It's not just that humiliating people, of any age, is a nasty and disrespectful way of treating them. It's that humiliation, like other forms of punishment, is counterproducti ve. 'Doing to' strategies - as opposed to those that might be described as 'working with' - can never achieve any result beyond temporary compliance, and it does so at a disturbing cost.


What can we surmise about the likelihood of someone's being caring and generous, loving and helpful, just from knowing that they are a believer? Virtually nothing, say psychologists, sociologists, and others who have studied that question for decade


Independence is useful, but caring attitudes and behaviors shrivel up in a culture where each person is responsible only for himself.


Children, after all, are not just adults-in-the-making.

They are people whose current needs and rights and experiences must be taken seriously.


In short, with each of the thousand-and-one problems that present themselves in family life, our choice is between controlling and teaching, between creating an atmosphere of distrust and one of trust, between setting an example of power and helping children to learn responsibility, between quick-fix parenting and the kind that's focused on long-term goals.


Punishments and rewards are two sides of the same coin and that coin doesn't buy you much.


Maximum difficulty isn't the same as optimal difficulty.


Do rewards motivate people? Absolutely. They motivate people to get rewards.


In education, parody is obsolete.