Education Reform: Beyond Discipline
Reviewed by Kah Ying Choo
In his book, Beyond Discipline: From
Compliance to Community, Alfie Kohn (1996) shatters the traditional
assumptions and practices of classroom management.
|Conventionally, teachers work
within a “teacher-directed model” by controlling the children’s
behavior either by punishment or rewards. Instead of acknowledging
the possible problems of a dull curriculum or poor instructional
methods, teachers place complete blame on children for their negative
behavior. Apart from critiquing traditional classroom method, Kohn
(1996) offers an alternative method, a “student-directed model” that
transforms the classroom into a democratic community that recognizes the
needs and interests of both teachers and students.
The underlying flaw with using the traditional
classroom management system is that it can only succeed in
eliciting temporary compliance from the students. The use of
extrinsic rewards and sanctions does not teach students to become caring
and responsible individuals who will be able to act appropriately
without external supervision or coercion.
With punishments, children only learn the
lesson that they will suffer dire consequences when they are caught
misbehaving. With rewards, students will learn how to respond
positively only in order to win a prize or praise. Therefore, both
punishments and rewards do not cultivate long-lasting moral values
within children. In fact, Kohn (1996) cites supportive research
to show that children who are taught with traditional classroom methods
tend to be more selfish and uncooperative than those who are taught
with alternative methods.
||In contrast, Kohn
(1996) believes that the implementation of a new classroom
management system that incorporates students in the decision-making
processes will exert a positive impact on the students and eliminate
Kohn (1996) highlights
five ways for classroom management system that
|incorporates students in the decision-making
processes will exert a positive impact on the creating a democratic
community within the classroom:
Invite students to participate in their
learning processes by making daily decisions.
students to learn appropriate behavior among
themselves, with the teacher’s guidance.
classroom discussions about the standards of behavior for
the classroom. Instead of the teacher prescribing rules of
conduct, the students are given the opportunities to explore and
determine how to create a positive community.
routine classroom meetings for students to vent their feelings, discuss classroom issues and
learn how to solve problems in a democratic setting.
- Create a
safe and positive environment that promotes
participation from all students, without fear of mockery and negative
book, Kohn (1996) has challenged the traditional
assumptions of classroom management that has dominated the school
system for centuries. Although educators believe that the
education system should help children become caring and responsible
individuals, they have upheld a system designed to create unthinking
and compliant students. Therefore, it is time for educators to
recognize the significance of Kohn’s vision of an alternative classroom
by answering this question: What kind of future do we want for our
children? Reference Kohn, A. (1996). Beyond
discipline: From compliance to community. Alexandria: Association for
Supervision and Curriculum Development.
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