Points of Interest While Reading Kohn

The second book I devoured this summer was Alfie Kohn's The Schools Our Children Deserve. It really challenged my thinking.  Although I had always thought of myself as a moderate constructivist, this book gave me pause to think about a lot of the things I still do with my students!

Here are my "sticky-note" sections:

  • A preoccupation with achievement is not only different from, but often detrimental to, a focus on learning. (21)

  • Meaningful learning does not proceed along a single dimension in such a way that we can nail down the extent of improvement.  Measurable outcomes may be the least significant results of learning. (75)

  • At best, high test scores for a given school or district are probably meaningless; at worst, they're actually bad news because of the kind of teaching that was done to produce those scores. (91)

  • A serious disservice is done to students when they are led to become so preoccupied with how well they're doing that they end up becoming less engaged with what they're doing. (123)

  • The evidence suggests that, all things being equal, students in a school that uses no letters or numbers to rate them will be more likely to think deeply, love learning, and tackle more challenging tasks. (189)

  • The best way to judge schools is by visiting them and looking for evidence of learning and interest in learning.

  • A relatively short period of introducing students to the content and format of the tests may be sufficient to produce scores equivalent to those obtained by students who have spent the entire year in a test-prep curriculum.

I love the way Alfie Kohn gives permission for readers to copy and hand out chapter 4 "Getting Evaluation Wrong: The Case Against Standardized Testing".

Wonder if I'd still have my job in August?

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