“What grade did you get? What did your teacher think?” With reference to these and other “deeply anti-intellectual questions” we often pose to children, Alfie Kohn emphasizes “a single, powerful distinction” — between asking kids to focus on their performance, and asking them to focus on their learning. Kohn examines six consequences of our systemic overemphasis of ‘achievement’ and ‘rigor,’ and invites us to reflect on what practices, at school and at home, predictably contribute to the problem.
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Alfie Kohn is the author of 12 books and countless articles on human behavior, education, and parenting. An outspoken critic of competition and rewards, he has been described in Time magazine as “perhaps the country’s most outspoken critic of education’s fixation on grades [and] test scores.” Recently on a conference call with today’s presenters, Alfie registered his point of view on a love of learning with typical economy and clarity. We were discussing the value of appreciative inquiry, and affirmative principles, to guides us in our change. And he said, “I think that to stop doing harm to children is as important as what we put in its place.” -CT
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