Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Alfie Kohn (coming to FSP on May 3)

Klingenbriefs (an email newsletter from the Klingenstein Center) offers a review of an Alfie Kohn article:

          Making the Reading Classroom Safe for Democracy
How to Create Nonreaders: Reflections on Motivation, Learning, and Sharing Power, by Alfie Kohn

What could possibly be wrong with asking students to read independently for twenty minutes each night? Why should teachers who focus on dramatic irony or iambic pentameter reconsider their approach to teaching literature? In this provocative article, Alfie Kohn confirms his well-established position as the thorn-in-the-side of American educators as he asks: why do so many students dislike reading (and by extension writing), and what can be done about it? Central to all of Kohn's work is the point that true motivation must be intrinsic and that extrinsic rewards suppress motivation; in this article, he elaborates on the essential role of choice for students. Kohn links the notion of a democratic classroom to augmenting investment in the classroom. The article is structured around a list of seven ways to "kill" a love of reading, followed by four guidelines for nurturing it. Whether or not you agree with Kohn's ideology, it is hard to dismiss his commitment to students.

Liz Perry, Berkeley Carroll School, NY

     ENGLISH JOURNAL, Fall 2010 -- vol. 100, no. 1