Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor

‘Talking Back’ To Alfie Kohn

October 10, 2011 1 min read

To the Editor:

I found Alfie Kohn’s Commentary offensive and useless (“Corridor Wit—Talking Back to Our Teachers,” Sept. 28, 2011). He must have attended terrible schools and had incompetent teachers. His essay, accompanied by a caricature of a 19th-century schoolmarm, makes the assumption that teachers spend their time copying worksheets, torturing students with boring and irrelevant lessons, and peppering them with snide and sarcastic comments and questions. He assumes that homework is a waste of time, and that it’s OK to come to class unprepared.

Is Mr. Kohn saying something about today’s schools and teachers, who do ask students to look at them when they are talking, do claim that students earn their grades, and rightfully so, ask the question, “Why didn’t you do your homework?” That question is usually followed by a conversation with the student.

I work in a school where teachers take seriously student responsibility. Students have homework every night. Students are expected to improve skills and gain content knowledge. We hear back from our graduates that the demands of our middle and high school have prepared them well for college. They are fully engaged and thrilled with the challenges and opportunities they never would have had minus the teachers who taught and cared for them so well.

I invite Mr. Kohn to visit our school. Spend some time and maybe rethink your “corridor wit.”

Paula M. Evans

Head of School

Community Charter School of Cambridge

Cambridge, Mass.

A version of this article appeared in the October 12, 2011 edition of Education Week as ‘Talking Back’ To Alfie Kohn


Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Safe Return to Schools is Possible with Testing
We are edging closer to a nationwide return to in-person learning in the fall. However, vaccinations alone will not get us through this. Young children not being able to vaccinate, the spread of new and
Content provided by BD
Equity & Diversity Live Online Discussion What Is Critical Race Theory and Why You Shouldn't Shy Away From It
In this episode of A Seat at the Table, Peter DeWitt sits down with lawyer-educator Janel George and EdWeek reporters, Stephen Sawchuk and Andrew Ujifusa, as they discuss what’s at the heart of the critical

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession New York City Will End Controversial Absent Teacher Pool
Education department officials there announced that they will place hundreds of sidelined teachers in permanent teaching positions starting next year.
Michael Elsen-Rooney, New York Daily News
4 min read
Image of a teacher in a classroom full of kids.
Teaching Profession Teachers Walk Off the Job at Chicago’s Urban Prep
With just two weeks left to the school year, teachers went on strike over what they say is a lack of support for special education students.
Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune
3 min read
Images shows hand drawn group of protestors.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion Compassion Fatigue Is Overwhelming Educators During the Pandemic
Educators need acknowledgment and healing while dealing with their own and others' grief. Here’s what administrators can do to help.
Shayla Ewing
5 min read
Illustration of empty shirt and cloud
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Teaching Profession Is It Time to Relax Teacher Dress Codes?
After teaching at home in comfortable clothes, some school and district leaders support casual attire for teachers returning to classrooms.
4 min read
Illustration of clothes on hangers