Shannah's Reviews > Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise and Other Bribes

Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn
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's review
Feb 17, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: currently-reading
Read from February 17 to March 08, 2012

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 them (as they were out of me, both at home and at school). In the end, I persisted, mainly because at the end, Kohn provides practical ways to move away from the rewards and punishments I fall back on reflexively as I try to get my kids to do what I say (NOW!!). I am glad I did persist, because now I feel much, much better about the way I do things at home with my kids, and how I have (and will into the future) help them through difficult periods in their education. It is gratifying to know that the ways I have been doing things, in the main (and not when I am stressed out to the point of bribing or threatening my kids in desperation), are very much in line with what Kohn recommends. The book has helped me notice my own behavior with my kids, and recognize the positive things I do (explaining why I want them to do things around the house, or why they have to learn math/reading/spelling/whatever it is they don't like, or why we help our elderly neighbor, for instance) as well as the negative things (bribing, rewarding, withholding/punishments). I have been writing down times when I resort to "do this and you'll get that" -- and it has been a real eye opener.

At any rate, I highly recommend you read this book as soon as you can. Your kids, co-workers, direct reports and everyone else you encounter, will be so much better off for it!


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