In a pair of lively and thought-provoking lectures, education expert Alfie Kohn makes a compelling case that two traditional features of schooling -- grades and homework -- are not only unnecessary but actually undermine students' interest in learning. // Research consistently finds that giving students letter or number grades leads them to think less deeply, avoid challenging tasks, and become less enthusiastic about whatever they're learning - and that's true for those who get A's as well as D's. Similarly, making children work what amounts to a second shift after having spent all day in school not only proves frustrating but also turns learning into a chore. Surprisingly, claims that homework enhances understanding or promotes better work habits are contradicted by both research and experience. // Rather than trying to tweak the details of how students are graded, or how much (or even what kind of) homework they're assigned, Kohn argues that we need to ask whether the practices themselves really make sense. // Alfie Kohn (www.alfiekohn.org) writes and speaks widely on education, parenting, and human behavior. His 11 books include PUNISHED BY REWARDS (1993), THE SCHOOLS OUR CHILDREN DESERVE (1999), and THE HOMEWORK MYTH (2006) - as well as the book and DVD UNCONDITIONAL PARENTING (2005). Time magazine has described him as "perhaps the country's most outspoken critic of education's fixation on grades [and] test scores."
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