Alfie Kohn

on classroom management

About Alfie

Kohn lives in Boston with his two children and previously taught a class on existentialism as a high school teacher. He now writes and speaks about parenting, education, and human behavior. He has developed and written his theories on classroom management by watching other educators in their practice who he regards are "better than [he] ever was," extensive research, talking, listening, and thinking. His approach to the classroom is completely opposite to the ideas behind "rewards and punishments."

Thoughts From Mr. Kohn

  • We shouldn't tell kids "good job" to reinforce good behavior. We are creating praise junkies, manipulating children, stealing their pleasure, reducing their achievement, and making them lose interest (Kohn, 2004)
  • Clutter, student chatter, "missing" teacher lost in student activity, and student decor are all signs of a good classroom. Chairs in straight rows, teacher front and center speaking, sterile walls and decor, hand raising and silence are signs of a bad classroom (Kohn, 1998).
  • Homework has no beneficial value to the student especially when given as prefabricated busy work. Teachers should only give homework that they have created, and that they have involved the students in. Teachers should be emphasizing decision-making and checking for understanding rather than rote memorization (Kohn, 2007).
  • Grit and self-regulation aren't necessarily attributes that correlate with good students or good learners. Encouraging self-discipline is actually limiting a students mental exploration in favor of receiving praise form the people in power (Kohn, 2015).

Some Books by Alfie Kohn

"The real problem is not the number of students who get A’s but the number who are taught that getting A’s is the point of school" (Kohn, 1998).


Kohn, A. (1993). Punished by rewards: The trouble with gold stars, incentive plans, A's, praise, and other bribes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Kohn, A. (1998). What to look for in a classroom: And other essays. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kohn, A. (2004). What does it mean to be well educated? and more essays on standards, grading, and other follies. Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press.

Kohn, A. (2006). Beyond discipline from compliance to community (10th anniversary ed., 2nd ed.). Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Kohn, A. (2006). The homework myth: Why our kids get too much of a bad thing. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Life Long.

Kohn, A. (2007). Rethinking Homework. Principal

Kohn, A. (2014). The myth of the spoiled child: Challenging the conventional wisdom about children and parenting.

Kohn, A. (2015). Schooling beyond measure and other unorthodox essays about education.