Alfie Kohn

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The title I originally had in mind for the 1999 book that became The Schools Our Children Deserve was Better Schools Than We Had. The idea here was that we want our kids’ education to be superior to what most of us received (and I use that last word deliberately, with its implications of passivity). You’d think such a desire would be uncontroversial; after all, parents say they hope their children will be more successful in conventional terms than they, themselves, have been: more years in school, more prestigious careers, and so on. But when it comes to the type of schooling people want for their kids, there’s often a strong traditional undertow. Regarding any familiar pedagogical practice -- homework, grades, tests, worksheets, lectures, discipline -- it’s as if the default parental posture is, “Hey, if it was bad enough for me, it’s bad enough for my kids.”

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