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

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  2,315 Ratings  ·  242 Reviews
The basic strategy we use for raising children, teaching students, and managing workers can be summarized in six words: do this and you'll get that. We dangle goodies (from candy bars to sales commissions) in front of people in much the same way that we train a family pet. The quick fix of rewards may seem to be effective, but manipulating people with external incentives a ...more
ebook, 448 pages
Published September 30th 1999 by Mariner Books (first published 1993)
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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
Elizabeth  Fuller
Aug 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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 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
Beth A.
Apr 19, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Seth Warner
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
but u knew
The overarching premise of this book is that rewarding people can actually decrease the desired behavior. When people are manipulated by "if you do [x], then you get [y]" type rewards, the extrinsic motivator (the reward) starts to replace any intrinsic motivation the person might have towards the task and are much less likely to continue the behavior if/when the rewards stop. One quote that stuck out to me was that programs like "Book It!" (Pizza Hut) only serve to produce fat kids who hate rea ...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
May 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Brittney DeFriez
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
Jurgen Appelo
Rock-solid research offered with cheeky humor. Required reading for every manager, teacher, and parent.
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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 about Alfie Kohn...
“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.” 28 likes
“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.” 25 likes
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