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Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes Paperback – September 30, 1999
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"Every parent, teacher, and manager should read this book -- and hurry." -- Thomas Gordon, founder of Parent Effectiveness Training
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Yes, LIFE itself is chock-full of that most dastardly component we all find ourselves reckoning with ...[CHANCE]. Give/take, win/lose, up/down, blessed/cursed, and so on. We all take risks of some sort every day of our lives with a hardwired neurological reward system in our brains.
Mr. Kohn has many valid concerns and makes a fairly good case for most, in his book: Punished by Rewards. The only problem seems to be that, if these issues were to be resolved- the lion would likely be layin' with the lamb. At this point their would be NO need in educating our kids or even taking a bath...no work - no sweat.
The claims made by Mr. Kohn are contrariwise to that which drives our entire national economy and much of the entire world. And what's more...
he provides NO alternative plan to pursue should everyone adhere to this mindless quest into shrillsville. Yet others have tried things like:
NO GOALS SOCCER, EVERYONE GETS A THROPY-(same size of course), OUTCOME BASED EDUCATION, SELF-ESTEEM CIRRICULUM, WERE ALL EQUAL, EVERYONE WINS !!!
Too much of ANYTHING can prove toxic, including something as essential as water. Extreme levels of scorn, as well as praise have their deficiencies and maintaining the acknowledgement of such is parentally imperative. It may well be
that 'rebellionism' is genetically linked to 'growin'-up', so the proverbial cards could be stacked against us. Finding ways to avoid such extremes, that could either lead the child into 'slackernomics' or 'richie-richdom', are simply NOT provided in Mr. Kohn's book. He seems 'hellbent' on ideas that may be theoretically useful, early-on ... yet when the 'corner' is turned and reality emerges - a toxic-shock of this thing overwhelms the little tyke...and the early years are said to be the most difficult undo what's been done.
From page 115 Mr. Kohn states; "Conservative economic principles are out of place when we are talking about what children need and deserve. What they need, as I have said, is UNCONDITIONAL APPROVAL and ACCEPTANCE - the very opposite of verbal rewards, and especially of tough praise. What they deserve, I believe, is what they need."
WOW !!! Man...that is 'deeeeeep'. Reminds be of Mr. Obama's most clever claim that..."we are who we have been waiting for." Look's like "we" bought it.
I just don't "buy" the idea that people should be reprogrammed to provide goods and services to each other merely out of our compassion for equality and fairness. Their is a distinct difference between fair, unfair, and WRONG. When things go wrong, challenge 'em,(oops...competion), then if a resolution is not mutually attainable, consider the rule of law.
Our great nation I truly love and fully respect, with ALL her faults. Yet one area of the Declaration of Independence that rings just a 'tad' off key is; " all men created equal ". How can we , as Humans/Americans be [SPECIAL/EXCLUSIVE/UNIQUE/DISTINCT], and EQUAL at the same time. Also, the founders failed to mention the WOMEN or CHILDREN... but most of us realize the intent was to include us all. Our very freedom, liberty and independence all require a delicate balance of AUTONOMY within the TEAM. A type of AUTONOTEAM that rewards achievement and rarely calls for punishment (when ethically managed), using both critical and creative thinking practices that merge to motivate all freemarketeers to learn the capitalistic approach that best deals with the problems that yearn for the supply and demand method, making AMERICA a true land of possibilities.
That is ...what it's all about ---ALFIE .
I recommend the book: LIFTING DEPRESSION by: Dr. Kelly Lambert for a neuroscientific approach to the EFFORT DRIVEN REWARD system of our brains.
Very well written in a most productive prose for all readers.
Also consider the book: HUMAN by: Michael S. Gazzaniga for the science behind what makes us unique.
Note: Please extend your UNCONDITIONAL APPROVAL and ACCEPTANCE of the fact
that I 'misspelled' a particular word in the above review ...can you find it and pleeeeeezzzz forgive me ???
For the most part, I found this to be an intentional counterbalance to business as usual. It appears that there are a great many reviewers with the psychology background to assess how he may set up BF Skinner as a straw man to strike down. I'm not sure it's necessary to set up Skinner as a man to strike down. I do agree with Kohn, however, that "pop behaviorism" and incentive driven behaviors are pervasive in our culture. Incentive plans in business, grades at school, and rewards at home are commonly thought of strategies for management. Kohn consistently attacks the abuses and excesses of incentives and gives a coherent framework for what makes rewards wrong, focusing on how relationships are fragmented and creativity and attention are undermined. As a teacher who has seen grade obsessed students in tutoring and classroom situations, any book that provides philosophical and psychological research to advocate for intrinsic learning is welcomed.
Readers should be aware that this is a *very* radical book. Like other radicals, Kohn is probably better at ripping down the capitalist, or in this case incentive-based, order than in building something up to replace it with. Kohn wants us to reason with people and clearly communicate agreed upon objectives. Has Kohn ever tried to implement these strategies in a classroom of 35-40 urban students? I believe that he would argue we should have smaller class sizes that we could value intrinsic motivation, but I question whether he would be living in the real world at that point. There are some valuable bullet points in the final 80-100 pages of the book where he advocates for strategies. Maybe his other works go at that side. Fundamentally, though he asks us to get away from our American focus on ends such as profits, grades, and behavioral complicity from our children. That makes this book truly radical and I am still weighing in my own mind how convinced I am about the pragmatic value of this book.
I think this book is valuable reading about the dangers of using rewards without thought for the long-term consequences of those rewards. I caution readers from joining Kohn wholeheartedly for in many ways, he seems to me to be a counterconsultant rather than an established educator with unassailable results or a business leader who has built a business implementing his principles. Now that I think of it, I yearned for the long term narratives of success stories where I could interpret details. He does cite a lot of research studies in support of his views, but I am not enough of a psychologist to ascertain whether I am fully convinced of the value in embracing the risks inherent with embracing his views full force.
Stay tuned. I might edit this one and say this has been a paradigm altering book that leads me away from keeping test prep as part of my personal mission. As it stands, I consider this a book that has helped me by raising some unresolved questions in my mind.