Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor

‘Talking Back’ To Alfie Kohn

October 10, 2011 1 min read
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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


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