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Beyond Discipline Written By: Alfie Kohn

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1 Beyond Discipline Written By: Alfie Kohn
Presentation By: Kelly Healy, Molly Maubach, Natalia Klocek, Keelin Funk, Alexis Hirsch

2 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.

3 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.

4 Adapting Kohn’s Theory
Elementary Middle/High School 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. 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:

5 Kohn’s controversial views on homework
Homework has no academic benefit. Learning should consist of projects, questions, and problems. “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 morally.” “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.”

6 Why are Alfie Kohn’s views on homework controversial?
Kohn has not taught since 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.

7 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.

8 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 form. 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.

9 Classroom Management Continued…
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.

10 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.

11 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)

12 Kohn states ““It requires we transform the classroom, give up some power, and reconsider the way we define and think about misbehavior” 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 expectations.

13 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.)

14 Agree/Disagree Activity
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.

15 A few video examples

16 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.

17 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.

18 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.

19 References 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),

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