Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community

Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community

by Alfie Kohn
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Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community by Alfie Kohn

What is most remarkable about the assortment of discipline programs on the market today is the number of fundamental assumptions they seem to share. Some may advocate the use of carrots rather than sticks; some may refer to punishments as logical consequences. But virtually all take for granted that the teacher must be in control of the classroom, and that what we need are strategies to get students to comply with the adult’s expectations.

Alfie Kohn challenged these widely accepted premises, and with them the very idea of classroom management, when the original edition of Beyond Discipline was published in 1996. Since then, his path-breaking book has invited hundreds of thousands of educators to question the assumption that problems in the classroom are always the fault of students who don’t do what they’re told; instead, it may be necessary to reconsider what it is that they’ve been told to do--or to learn. Kohn shows how a fundamentally cynical view of children underlies the belief that we must tell them exactly how we expect them to behave and then offer “positive reinforcement” when they obey.

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. Kohn contrasts the idea of discipline, in which things are done to students to control their behavior, with an approach in which we work with students to create caring communities where decisions are made together.

Beyond Discipline has earned the status of an education classic, a vital alternative to all the traditional manuals that consist of techniques for imposing control. For this 10th anniversary edition, Kohn adds a new afterword that expands on the book’s central themes and responds to questions from readers. Packed with stories from real classrooms around the country, seasoned with humor and grounded in a vision as practical as it is optimistic, Beyond Discipline shows how students are most likely to flourish in schools that have moved toward collaborative problem solving--and beyond discipline.

Alfie Kohn is the author of many other books about education and human behavior, including Punished by Rewards, The Schools Our Children Deserve, and Unconditional Parenting. A former teacher, he now works with educators and parents across the United States and maintains a Web site.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780871202703
Publisher: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development
Publication date: 09/01/1996
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 166
Product dimensions: 6.06(w) x 9.23(h) x 0.40(d)

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Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
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In Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community, Alfie Kohn presents cogent criticism of the common strategies teachers use to control student behavior: rewards and punishment. Kohn made me question whether I ought to use such tactics, and made me hunger for a better way -- something not involving an insistence on control and compliance. Unfortunately, Beyond Discipline created a hunger without really satisfying it. ------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------- ---- Kohn is right about rewards and penalties carrying a terrible price tag. They are both forms of manipulation, and leave little room for children to make authentic choices about what or how they will learn. Moreover, it is undoubtedly better for children to be motivated intrinsically to act kindly toward others, rather than just doing it to get praise and rewards and to avoid punishments. Getting compliance, in short, isn¿t much of an achievement. ---------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------- So, the next logical question is, if a teacher jettisons rewards, penalties, and insisting on compliance, what will she replace them with? Obviously, ¿doing nothing¿ or ¿letting the students do whatever they please¿ would be unacceptable. We have to replace rules and bribes and threats with something, but what? ----------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------- ------ Kohn claims that traditional discipline methods are founded on the assumption that children are selfish and sinister, ¿that children will act generously only when reinforced for doing so, that people are motivated exclusively by self-interest¿ (page 8). Indeed, this assumption may be held by many traditional discipline programs. However, I personally don¿t use rewards and penalties as a result of any such assumption. In fact, like Kohn, I believe that children have a natural tendency toward empathy and generally want to help others. I use rewards and punishments because of a different assumption: Children often don¿t know what¿s best for them. Responsible adults often need to tell children what to do, simply because children often lack proper judgment. Children aren¿t naturally cruel or selfish, but they do lack knowledge and maturity. Think about it: Given their choice, would most children eat nutritious meals three times a day, or junk food? Would most children study a wide variety of academic subjects (math, history, science, grammar, etc.,), or would they only study whatever suits their momentary fancy? Would most children wait until they were at an appropriate age and maturity level operate drive a car, or would they operate (potentially deadly) vehicles much too soon? ----------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------- ------ I have rules in my classroom because I know that children often lack the maturity and knowledge to make choices that will benefit them in the long term. So, I¿m not quite sold on the idea of getting rid of rules for children set by responsible adults. The students may have some input in the formation of the class rules, but ultimately it¿s the responsible adult who knows what¿s best for the students¿ long-term benefit, so it¿s not unreasonable for the adult in the classroom to veto any class rules that would not meet the students¿ needs (rules that are too vague to be understood, too punitive, too permissive, etc.) ----------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------- ------ What would Kohn use to replace rewards and consequences? In a very simplified form, he would replace them with: ----1) making ta