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What to Look for in a Classroom: ...and Other Essays

ISBN: 978-0-7879-5283-9
304 pages
February 2000, Jossey-Bass
What to Look for in a Classroom: ...and Other Essays (0787952834) cover image
"Alfie Kohn has a knack for bursting the bubbles that surround just about every school topic imaginable, from putting kids into uniforms to make them behave better to raising kids' self-esteem by rewarding them with stickers and pizza for reading books and doing homework. This collection of previously published essays reminds us that many schools have veered off course in their day-to-day business. And it's a primer that, if taken seriously, can put schools back on the right track."

--Educational LeadershipThrough his writings and speeches, Alfie Kohn has been stirring up controversy for years, demonstrating how the conventional wisdom about education often isn't supported by the available research, and illuminating gaps between our long-term goals for students and what actually goes on in schools. Now What to Look for in a Classroom brings together his most popular articles from Educational Leadership, Phi Delta Kappan, and Education Week--and also from The Atlantic Monthly, the Boston Globe, and other publications.

From self-esteem to school uniforms, from grade inflation to character education, Kohn raises a series of provocative questions about the status quo in this collection of incisive essays. He challenges us to reconsider some of our most basic assumptions about children and education. Can good values really be instilled
in students? What, if anything, lies behind the label of attention deficit disorder? Are there solid data to support our skepticism about watching TV? Might such allegedly enlightened practices as authentic assessment,
logical consequences,
and Total Quality education
turn out to be detrimental? Whether he is explaining why cooperative learning can be so threatening or why detracking is so fiercely opposed, Kohn offers a fresh, informed, and frequently disconcerting perspective on the major issues in education.

In the And, his critical examination of current practice is complemented by a vision of what schooling ought to be. Kohn argues for giving children more opportunity to participate in their own schooling, for transforming classrooms into caring communities, and for providing the kind of education that taps and nourishes children's curiosity. Through all these essays, Kohn calls us back to our own ideals, showing us how we can be more effective at helping students to become good learners and good people.
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Part One: Classroom Mismanagement.

1. The Limits of Teaching Skills.

2. The Trouble with School Uniforms.

3. Beyond Discipline.

4. How Not to Teach Values: A Critical Look at Character Education.

Part Two: American Ideology Goes to School.

5. Resistance to Cooperative Learning: Making Sense of Its Deletion and Dilution.

6. "A Lot of Fat Kids Who Don't Like to Read": The Effects of Pizza Hut's Book It! Program and Other Reading Incentives.

7. Grading: The Issue is Not How But Why.

8. Grade Inflation and Other Red Herrings.

9. Only for My Kid: How Privileged Parents Undermine School Reform.

Part Three: Unquestioned Assumptions About Children.

10. Suffer the Restless Children: Unsettling Questions About the ADHD Label.

11. The Truth About Self-Esteem.

12. Television and Children: ReViewing the Evidence.

Part Four: Business as Usual.

13. The Five-Hundred-Pound Gorilla.

14. The False Premises of School Choice Plans.

15. Students Don't "Work"--They Learn.

16. The Littlest Customers: TQM Goes to School.

Part Five: Lessons Learned.

17. Caring Kids: The Role of the Schools.

18. Choices for Children: Why and How to Let Students Decide.

19. What to Look for in a Classroom.
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ALFIE KOHN is the author of seven books on education, including Punished by Rewards and The Schools Our Children Deserve. He lectures widely and works with educators across the country and abroad.
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"Of the dozens of 'experts' on what's wrong (and right) in U.S. schools, only a handful are truly worth reading; Kohn has long been one of the soundest." --Booklist

"Kohn's message, if heeded, could inspire a productive revolution in America's fatigued regime of public education." --Publisher's Weekly

"This collection...reminds us that many schools have veered off course in their day-to-day business. And it's a primer that, if taken seriously, can put schools back on the right track." --Educational Leadership

"Informative, inspiring, and thought-provoking." --Library Journal
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