Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A'S, Praise and Other Bribes
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A'S, Praise and Other Bribes

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,295 ratings  ·  167 reviews
In this study, an experienced classroom teacher takes us into her fifth-grade maths class through the course of a year and shows how classroom dynamics - the complex relationship of teacher, student and content - are critical in improving student performance. Magdalene Lampert offers an original model of teaching practice that casts new light on the ways teachers can succe...more
Paperback, 430 pages
Published January 1st 1993 by Mariner Books
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Karin
My daughter's gr. 1 teacher just announced that if the kids read 100 books, they'd get a reward. Instead of being enthusiastic, or eager to read, DD just got upset and worried that now she can't get the reward because 100 seemed way too many. How different is 100 from a bazillion to a gr. 1 kid who barely knows how to count that high?

Reading this book helped me to understand that frustration, and non-interest is a normal reaction to bribery. Kohn states that kids and adults alike see both rewa...more
Elizabeth  Fuller
A lot of what the author says - that the use of rewards as motivators (for children, students, employees, etc.) is not only ineffective, but often detrimental to morale and motivation - makes a lot of sense, and certainly represents a fresh perspective. Despite this, however, I couldn't shake a lingering feeling of disagreement. Not that I don't believe his arguments...but I also don't think he leaves enough room for individual difference. For example, while I do agree with him that intrinsic mo...more
Sharlee
Mar 27, 2008 Sharlee rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers, parents, any person in a management position
Recommended to Sharlee by: College peers/professors
As a college student, I had been very interested in Alfie Kohn's philosophies. After graduating and getting a job much sooner than expected, I decided to read this book. I am amazed by how much we control other people with rewards. I've never been a fan of behaviorism...in any form. Which doesn't make me widely popular as a teacher. My students were stunned when I took over and explained that I do not give treats for asking questions or learning. I also explained to them that they are not dogs a...more
Marshall
May 31, 2010 Marshall rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Parents, Teachers, Managers
Recommended to Marshall by: Joanie
I didn't give this book a 5 for fantastic writing. Although, Kohn is funny and insightful at times but he is also kind of repetitive (if you only read the first 5 chapters you'd learn everything you needed to know about the problem with rewards). The ideas in this book rang true to me as I read them. For example, achieving short-term compliance from my kids by offering them rewards (go get ready for bed without a fight and I'll read you stories until 7:30) is not only manipulative and selfish mo...more
Beth A.
May 08, 2009 Beth A. rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Beth A. by: Laura Dotson
Shelves: nonfiction, parenting
I love parenting books, and I love exploring different ideas on how to parent , but this one was more difficult for me. The first few chapters are based on the assumption that no one human has the right to control another person. The idea is abhorrent to Kohn. This may be true in the workplace, but for parenting and to a lesser degree schooling, there are times when even the most lenient parent must have some control. You can’t exactly reason with a two year old that running in the street isn’t...more
nitin
There were some important lessons in this book.
* Be careful of using extrinsic factors as a manager, teacher, or parent. by promoting, "if you do this, then you will get that" does not develop intrinsically motivated people.
* Rewards, praise, and incentives can sometimes be just as damaging as punishments.
* It is important to be thoughtful, supportive, and proactive in understanding the underlying issues of a problem rather than addressing the symptoms.

At the same time, I found the book repetiti...more
Brittney Christensen
To sum it up, this book is how we are slaves and make each other slaves to rewards when, if fact rewards are actaully shown to decrease intrinsic motivation. Case studies showed children who were given a reward if they played with certain toys and then, once that reward was taken, the children were turned off to that toy. When I read it, I loved it. It seemed inspired and appealed to my soft spot for rebellion. I felt that the this might what was wring with public education.

Now, that I am finish...more
Kate
this book is so great in the one main thing it set out to do, which is to point out 1) how totally saturated our culture is in giving people rewards to act the way you want them to (behavioralism, a notion/technique popularized by BF Skinner but around for ages), and 2) to point out all the subsequent research showing how giving rewards for a task/attitude/behavior kills the positive relationship between the doer and the deed. If you start paying kids to play their favorite game, they lose inter...more
Keith Kendall
By Alfie Kohn

Alas the book challenges so many of our cherished beliefs that I am beginning to see the the loss of motivation in a new light. It is disconcerting to see how widely his critique applies.


"Skinner spent his life denying the idea of choice and urging us to control reinforcers in the environment since they, in turn, control us." (p. 30)

The most notable aspect of a positive judgment is not that it is positive but that it is a judgment. (Page 102)

The legendary statistical consultant W. E...more
Deborah
Jan 25, 2008 Deborah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: educators, managers, parents
As a self-motivated person who takes pride in a job well done, I've always felt that incentives at school and in the workplace served to undermine the value of my personal achievements. Due to this perspective, Alfie Kohn's book resonated well with me; however there are some who feel that nothing is worth doing if it doesn't result in a $5 Starbucks card, a flimsy certificate, or some such trivial token. Such people will not like this book.

My one criticism of the book is that it begins to feel r...more
Kristen Hovet
A life-changer. This has changed my perspective on parenting, counselling, teaching, and being the subject of so many incentive programs and extrinsic motivators.

Well-written and clear, with compelling arguments and research overviews.
Sherry (sethurner)
It has been a while since I read Alfie Kohn's book. I heard him speak at a teachers' convention and was intrigued by his assertion that teachers and parents kill children's motivation by offering rewards/bribes. So, candy, stickers, certificates, cash and other incentives really don't motivate! It went along with my casual observation that students to whom I sent commendations soon lost their commendabe behaviors, and it went along with a university class I took in the 80's about motivational th...more
Megan Cooper
A must read for parents, teachers, bosses. A little alarming, and left me wondering what to do in lieu of all the praises and rewards (although Mindset, as I recall, does offer both solutions and food for thought on how to just give useful feedback, and what that is). Well-researched, articulate; those who disagree would need to provide a lot of evidence to dispute the many findings that support the cautions in this book. And an afterward talks specifically about Accelerated Reader, something I'...more
Amanda
Kohn articulates a lot of the concerns I have had with the overuse of rewards in the schools. I don't agree with everything he says (e.g. he thinks the whole grading system should be done away with), but most of it made a lot of sense to me. I wish more teachers would read this, and stop using so much candy and other bribes to get kids to learn. (Especially the candy!)
Katie
Not done yet, but writing this in case I don't finish it. It seems like an interesting idea, but it also seems like it could be a fraction of the size and be helpfully more succinct. I wish I knew where he was going with the whole thing....
Corinne Campbell
Every, teacher, parent, manager, politician, administrator should read this book.
Parrish Walsh
Dec 19, 2013 Parrish Walsh rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone, especially those interested in life and motivation
Woah. This one is shocking in that it really challenges the current pop-psychology, behaviorism. Most of our society operates by punishments and rewards (commissions, awards, grades, detentions, sticker charts, etc.) This book challenges the idea that this is the best motivation or motivation at all for people. Kohn shows the research that backs this claim and goes the extra mile to show you how to implement or in some cases remove "carrots and sticks" from your environment be it business, perso...more
Belcantomom


I have been wanting to read this for a long time and finally got all the way through it. After being a Communication Skills Instructor for 5 years and studying NVC and the like, this is right down my alley. I wish he hadn't spent so much trying to convince me. I am pretty sure those who pick this book up have already questioned common rewards systems. Behaviorism has always rubbed me wrong, but I couldn't articulate why until I started studying communication. Humans have higher brain functions!...more
Randall
This book is a scathing indictment of common practices and beliefs that are pervasive in our society, and thereby radical, although the evidence, dutifully presented, shows that experts are increasingly aware of the problem.

Kohn argues a strong case against rewards and punishments in all aspects of life, focusing on parenting, management, and teaching. The examples illuminate the pervasiveness of Skinnerian thinking in our society and the results of the experiments Kohn relies upon paint a truly...more
Liz DeMar
A bit verbose at times, particularly for the person already acquainted with Kohn's work. Kohn captivates by presenting study after study that demonstrate how rewards simply do not work. Pay for performance? Doesn't work. Grades for performance? Doesn't work. Bribery for child's behavior? Experience tells every parent that any benefits are fleeting. Not only do rewards not work, but ultimately they prove damaging. Offer a reward and you can watch productivity and creativity decline. People who ar...more
Lisa Delaine Youngblood
I have never read a book that so questioned societal norms, nor have I ever altered my views so much based on the concepts introduced in a book. The title of this book explains exactly what readers can expect. As with any book discussing parenting skills, work levels, and manipulation, readers will have to determine for themselves whether or not they can agree, disagree, or at least rethink their previous opinions. This book requires readers to look closely at the heart of motivations -- both in...more
Shannah
I think everyone who interacts with students or employees ought to be required to read this book, since it debunks the myth of rewards as the best motivation at school or work. *spoiler alert* Skinnerian behaviorism is thoroughly discredited.

At times it was hard to keep reading, since I kept getting freaked out about my kids and their schooling. I worry all the time that their joy in learning, their creativity, and their ability to make their own decisions in life are being crushed right out of...more
kat
In a certain way, this was a really interesting book. Its main ideas were refreshing and surprising: Rewards demotivate people. Praise can do the same, plus insult them to boot.

In another way, this was quite a boring book. The author seemed to have difficulty trusting that he had properly conveyed his points to the reader. The basic claims and the reasoning behind them were reiterated far too frequently. I kept wondering if the book had originally been published as separate articles for differen...more
Jen Marin
In Punished by Rewards, Alfie Kohn challenges many of the sacred ideas that fuel our modern culture. Despite the widespread use of both punishments and rewards, the evidence is strong that neither approach is very effective at motivating people. From the corporate world to the classroom, the tradition of behaviorism is almost ubiquitous, where gold stars, grades, prizes and even cash are dangled before people under the common perception that doing so will improve their performance.

Research sho...more
Clint
A great book. The book is written for two audiences, educators and business professionals. I only had to read the sections that pertained to education, but after reading them, I am curious to know if the business world is like the education world. I will not praise Alfie for writing a well informed book, but simply acknowledge that it is. Teaching second grade, I can already see in 7yr olds how praise, rewards, and other behavior manipulators have altered there perspective of life. The "whats in...more
Nicole
I read this book for an on-line education class. It made me question both the behavior management tools I use with my students and my son. Kohn does provide practical strategies to use to "wean" kids off rewards and punishments, but I know I've got a long road ahead if I was to STOP cold turkey. Sometimes the methods just aren't going to work unless you've set your classroom without grades and other rewards from the beginning. As far as my son is concerned, I think this book touches on the reaso...more
Christine
I had previously read Unconditional Parenting by the same author, which I found very intriguing (but unsatisfying in some respects) and read this book in the hope of further developing my thoughts on these issues. Unlike Unconditional Parenting, which of course focuses on parenting, this book also discusses the negative effects of extrinsic motivators in schools and workplaces.

I agree wholeheartedly with Kohn that extrinsic motivators are not ideal in any of these realms. I find it comforting to...more
Nicole
Feb 28, 2012 Nicole rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nicole by: Alicia
I like how the book is broken up so you could essentially just read about what interests you in regards to rewards whether work, child rearing or school. I felt all pertained to me.

This book depressed me! It was written in 1993 & he presents a lot of supporting research, yet NOTHING has changed in public education!! Then here I am with this information that makes sense & have very little power because to make these lasting changes would require drastic measures in the world of education...more
Julie
Jun 12, 2008 Julie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone who would like a better approach for children to learn
Shelves: educational
This is an excellent book. If only there was a way that public education and parenting would work together to teach our children in the way this book presents. WOW!!! Imagine the world we would live in and the people that would be in our government if we were able to follow the guidance of this book. This book helps you see how we are punishing our children by using rewards for every little thing. The author breaks it down into three categories: parents,teachers,and employees. It's not that givi...more
Eric
Nov 27, 2011 Eric added it
Do rewards motivate people? Absolutely. They motivate people to get rewards


Definitely glad to have read this book. I hope that having read this book I can avoid the trap of "I like how you did Nice Thing X".

Dunno, maybe it just gels so nicely with my general world view and it's just cognitive dissonance confirmation bias (damn brain, used the wrong word) talking; Alfie's right because he says what I want to hear. Paying kids for grades/chores always felt "wrong". Praise always felt like an insu...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
TeacherReads: Merit Systems - Do you use them 5 31 Mar 05, 2013 11:25PM  
  • How Children Fail
  • The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think And How Schools Should Teach
  • Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation
  • Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves
  • Kids Are Worth It!: giving your child the gift of inner discipline
  • Becoming the Parent You Want To Be
  • The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education
  • Raising Children Compassionately: Parenting the Nonviolent Communication Way
  • Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius
  • Playful Parenting
  • The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World as Your Child's Classroom
  • Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
  • Homeschooling Our Children Unschooling Ourselves
  • A Child's Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play
  • Sharing Nature with Children: The Classic Parents' & Teachers' Nature Awareness Guidebook
  • Free Range Learning How Homeschooling Changes Everything
  • The Unschooling Unmanual
  • The Continuum Concept: In Search Of Happiness Lost
64319
Alfie Kohn writes and speaks widely on human behavior, education, and parenting. The author of eleven books and scores of articles, he lectures at education conferences and universities as well as to parent groups and corporations.

Kohn's criticisms of competition and rewards have been widely discussed and debated, and he has been described in Time magazine as "perhaps the country's most outspoken...more
More about Alfie Kohn...
Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and "Tougher Standards" No Contest: The Case Against Competition Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community

Share This Book

“Some who support [more] coercive strategies assume that children will run wild if they are not controlled. However, the children for whom this is true typically turn out to be those accustomed to being controlled— those who are not trusted, given explanations, encouraged to think for themselves, helped to develop and internalize good values, and so on. Control breeds the need for more control, which is used to justify the use of control.” 15 likes
“In a word, learning is decontextualized. We break ideas down into tiny pieces that bear no relation to the whole. We give students a brick of information, followed by another brick, followed by another brick, until they are graduated, at which point we assume they have a house. What they have is a pile of bricks, and they don't have it for long.” 12 likes
More quotes…