Alfie Kohn and Valerie Strauss
Alfie Kohn’s “Schools Would be Great if it Weren’t for the Kids” describes how kids can be motivated by nontraditional ways of teaching school. Kohn criticizes Robert J. Samuelson’s column about reforming schools by offering better salaries to teachers and the use of “positive reinforcement and punitive consequences” for students. Kohn’s article rejected Samuelson’s ideas for school reform, and instead said that school reform should be based on the idea that schools should change how classroom’s function to make the learning interesting and make kids motivated to do better. Kohn says traditional schooling methods are causing kids to become less motivated to learn, and the best idea is to change things in the classroom to make learning fun and meaningful for kids.
Summary Response:Alfie Kohn’s “Schools Would be Great if it Weren't for the kids” elucidates how kids are becoming less motivated in school under traditional teaching methods, and the best idea to change this is by changing how classroom’s work. If a kid is bored, he or she tends to not pay attention and does not hear important things. This causes students to be less motivated in school. Kohn suggests that kids have also lost “the hunger to make sense of things, with which all children start out.” He also reflects on how kids are losing the fire that they have to learn new things. He says teaching of students today “reflects a problem with what, and how, they’re being taught, or the extent to which they've been excluded from the process of making decisions about their own learning.” This suggests that students want new, non-traditional ways to learn in the classroom. To support his viewpoint, Kohn wrote “You need to visit classrooms or schools that take a nontraditional approach to education, places where students are more likely to be absorbed and frequently delighted.” Kids learn better if they are absorbed by the work they are doing.