Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community

Alfie Kohn
What is most remarkable about the assortment of discipline programs on the market today is the number of fundamental assumptions they seem to share. Some may advocate the use of carrots rather than sticks; some may refer to punishments as "logical consequences." But virtually all take for granted that the teacher must be in control of the classroom, and that what we need are strategies to get students to comply with the adult's expectations. In this path-breaking book, Alfie Kohn calls these premises into question, and with them the very idea of classroom "management." He questions the assumption that problems in the classroom are always the fault of students who don't do what they are told, suggesting that we might instead reconsider what they have been told to do--or to learn. He shows how a fundamentally cynical view of children lies beneath the assumption that we must tell them exactly how we expect them to behave and then offer "positive reinforcement" when they obey. Just as memorizing someone else's right answers fails to promote students' intellectual development, so does complying with someone else's expectations for how to act fail to help students develop socially or morally. Kohn contrasts the idea of discipline, in which things are done to students to control their behavior, with an approach in which we work with students to create caring communities where decisions are made together. Packed with stories from real classrooms around the country, seasoned with humor and grounded in a vision as practical as it is optimistic, this book shows how students are most likely to flourish in schools that have moved toward collaborative problem solving--and beyond discipline.


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