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Kohn believes that "Adults who are respectful of children are not just modeling a skill or
behavior, they are meeting the emotional needs of those children, thereby helping to create the
psychological conditions for children to treat others respectfully" (Kohn 1997a). Alfie Kohn
insists that students should be taught how to be responsible and respectful as this is the
foundation for all other learning.
Kohn does not believe in a rigid curriculum. He does not support the idea of strict standards to
ensure that all students are learning the same thing at the same time because not all students
learn at the same pace. Standards and alignment do not take into account the fact that
students are different and have different interests. Kohn encourages teachers to help students
to pursue their own interests.
He posits that students should have control over how they learn the material and should be
able to have the freedom of these choices to benefit their own learning and to help create
positive behavior towards learning. We want children to continue reading and thinking after
school has ended, yet we focus their attention on grades, which have been shown to reduce
interest in learning. We want them to be critical thinkers, yet we feed them predigested facts
and discrete skills partly because of various constituencies to pump up standardized test
scores (Kohn 2001, p. 61).
Kohn questions the entire premise upon which the field of classroom management bases itself.
He believes that educators should focus their time, energy, and attention on how to prevent
the types of behavior that require management and discipline. "Skillful educators tap students'
natural curiosity and desire to become competent. In a learning environment, teachers want to
help students engage with what they are doing to promote deeper understanding" (Kohn,
1997c).Reinforcement, punishment and reward only temporarily relieve behavior problems and
dont create responsible and well behaved future citizens.
I have not tried Kohns theory but I will really like to try it because it stands for everything I
believe in, with regards to the standard of students I want to produce. I want my students to
love learning and put in their best in whatever they do. I want them to be able to make good
choices whether or not anyone is watching. This might be a very hard route to take considering
the fact that most student are used to getting rewards for their good behavior but I am willing
to find a way to make it work.