5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT! I WISH EVERYBODY THOUGHT LIKE ALFIE KOHN!
I have stated in a previous review how I feel about prizes/awards and the punitive tone I feel often accompany them.
In 1965 the Queen of England presented the Beatles with the MBE Award. John Lennon refused his and some several years later, returned it to the Queen. He felt that he could not, in good conscience accept an award that had previously been given to...
Published on Sep 2 2000 by BeatleBangs1964
3.0 out of 5 stars Misunderstandings galore
Most of the reviewers seem to confuse rewards with reinforcers. An extrinsic reward is not guaranteed to be a reinforcer. Skinner made it very clear in SCIENCE AND HUMAN BEHAVIOR that the determination of reinforcers in human beings was often complex. I rate this book 3 stars because the author did not make it clear enough that his work was about "amateur"...
Published on April 23 2003 by Janise G. Pries
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5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT! I WISH EVERYBODY THOUGHT LIKE ALFIE KOHN!,
This review is from: Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes (Paperback)I have stated in a previous review how I feel about prizes/awards and the punitive tone I feel often accompany them.
In 1965 the Queen of England presented the Beatles with the MBE Award. John Lennon refused his and some several years later, returned it to the Queen. He felt that he could not, in good conscience accept an award that had previously been given to people who had killed others in combat.
I was so impressed by John Lennon's brave stand against the award. It showed a real strength of character and convictions and it showed not compromising one's standards. I even cheered John's stand on this and his refusal of the award.
In my earlier review, I criticized what I call "lollipop" awards. Lollipops are simply uniform prizes given to all participants. I hate the lollipops because they are patronizing and insulting. The message contained therein is, "Don't count on being able to earn a real prize. Just be content with a lollipop." I could never, at any point in my life accept a "lollipop." The three times I received "lollipops" as a child were three occasions those lollipops were promptly disposed of. I remember even then consciously thinking that "if I don't get a REAL prize fairly, then I won't get one." I just could not accept a lollipop. Receiving such an ersatz prize can really hurt one's pride and undermine confidence. Although lollipops are usually dispensed with good intentions, it often backfires.
John Lennon set a good example. He did not accept something he did not feel he earned.
I like the way the author brings home the point that people are NOT a series of conditioned responses. Behaviorism is very restrictive and very limiting in addressing human responses and issues. Alfie Kohn has done a tremendous service in his presentations of this lesson and his arguments are right on target.
I wish everybody agreed with Alfie Kohn's position. This book is one I would highly recommend to anyone. It is well worth reading.
5.0 out of 5 stars POKES A MUCH NEEDED FINGER IN THE EYE OF BEHAVIORISM!,
This review is from: Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes (Paperback)This work is sheer brilliance. Mr. Kohn makes a very good and very unshakable case against dispensing awards. I have long believed that COMPETITION KILLS COOPERATION and that creating rivalry among people often undermines the outcome in the long run.
I have always had a constitutional aversion for "lollipop" awards; that is, awards passed out like lollipops to every participant. In some instances all participants receive a uniform prize. Nobody's performance is being distinguished, so therefore a prize is asinine and meaningless. As well intentioned as this is, no playing field can ever be level and merely dispensing such uniform "lollipops" flies in the face of what awards are really for. I personally detest the "lollipop" awards and I, for one, would not ever be able to accept one in good conscience. For me, it has to be earned fairly and honestly or it doesn't count.
If I had my way, there would be no prizes and awards. All they do is breed rivalry and negative competition. I feel they often undermine cooperation and in many instances preclude cooperation. I like "intrinsic rewards" wherein a person feels good about their accomplishments and receives positive verbal feedback. My favorite uncle was a grand champion at intrinsic rewards -- just knowing he felt you had done a good job or that he was pleased with something you did was a major ego booster. His way was to offer words of gentle encouragement and his motto was simple: if one expects the best, then one can reasonably believe they will GET the best performance. He did not pass out any type of award and he had a strong sense of self and ethics. This highly gifted man has imparted a real gift -- the gift of hard work and taking pride in it.
This book is an excellent statement to the above. I would highly recommend it to anyone. People are more than conditioned responses and rewards often feed into behaviorist thinking.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you can read, you should read this book.,
This review is from: Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes (Paperback)I give this book a qualified 5 stars. (qualified because I'm only 2/3 of the way through.)
Those who criticize Mr. Kohn because he confuses rewards with reinforcers actually agree with the author more than they realize. A reinforcer maintains or increases the likelihood of a particular behaviour occurring again. He examines the attempted use of rewards as reinforcers. If you read his arguments, what he is really saying is that rewards work as reinforcers only some of the time, when they do work they usually only work short term, and......most importantly, even if rewards act as a reinforcer, what motives underlie our desire to increase that behaviour in the first place?
The point of the book is to critically examine the following:
1) Here is what we want (to have self-reliant yet caring children, to have motivated yet cooperative employees, etc.)
2) Here is what we do to get it (use behavioural reinforcers).
3) Is what we do leading to the result we want?
This involves a shift to big-picture, long-term thinking. Our society is by its very nature focused on the short-term, the quick fix. So this shift is really difficult for people.
In a given situation, a person is not behaving the way you want them to. You have a choice of how to respond.
First, examine your reasons for wanting them to behave differently (is it in their interest, or your own interest? Is it to help them, or to control them?) This requires more self-criticism than many people are willing to subject themselves to.
You can threaten to punish the person. You can promise them a reward if they comply. Neither of these pay any regard to the reason behind the behaviour. The third option is to consider why the person is behaving as they are. This requires, at minimum, taking their perspective, seeing the world through their eyes. It also requires assuming that another has the best possible intentions, until proven otherwise.
This brings me to the other difficult paradigm shift.
Under pop behaviourism, if you misbehave, your motivations for doing so are not considered. All that matters is you broke the rules. In other words, people are born unruly and selfish, and the only way we will develop the desired characteristics is by behavioural manipulation. It's a fundamentally negative view of human nature.
Under Kohn's philosophy, a behaviour someone else is doing that I think is "bad" nevertheless could have good intentions by the person doing it. A fundamentally positive view of human nature.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profoundly right,
This book is one of the 4 or 5 most life-changing books that I have ever read. When friends ask me for parenting advice or management advice, this book tops my list of recommendations. If this book lacks in any area, it is in providing an alternative toolkit. It has a few things to say on the topic, but you will need to roll your own toolkit to a large extent. Having made the journey to the other side, I can tell you it is well worth the effort. I find it telling that friends did not start asking me for parenting or management advice until *after* I had reengineered my life according to this book.
Read this book and get started on your own journey toward a life of mutual respect towards your fellow travelers.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So rewards don't always work -- that upsets the apple cart!,
grade standards in order to motivate our students to do their
best work. The assumption behind my position is that students
want to get A's and will work to avoid F's (at least most will).
This doesn't seem too radical. As parents, we make similar
Employers and supervisors would agree. We reward our employees
But after reading Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn, I have some
The book starts off with a review of the psychological school of
In one study, for example, pre-kindergarten children were given
What does this say about our summer reading programs, where we
children dessert as a reward for eating their Brussel Sprouts?
The same phenomenon occurs in the workplace. Employees who are in
So what's the solution? Ah, here is the weakness, as Kohn himself
admits. If the high school were to tell our students that we
This is a book that parents, teachers, and employers will all
1.0 out of 5 stars Did he write the book for free? Think about it...,
While less exciting a read than Kohn's book, a much more even-handed and scholarly work on the intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation controversy can be found in the book "Rewards and Intrinsic Motivation: Resolving the Controversy" by Cameron and Pierce. For an easier and more popular book on this controversy (but no less well written), pick up "Other People's Habits" by Daniels.
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Changing,
By A Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars It's not easy to accept the truth,
We are all not motivated by the same things, nor do we all share the same goals either professionally or personally so why would we put in place a system that assumes such a declaration? Learn about the bell shaped performance curve to understand that the group of people who produce the largest output are often the most unrecognized and angry. Companies that emphasize reward and recognition to their best performers will overlook the hardest and most loyal employees and then want to punish people for cheating on numbers simply to keep their jobs. Is it any surprise that these same companies end up fighting off lawsuits and labor unions? For instance, how does any company know how many phone calls or sales referrals per day it takes to keep a customer loyal?
Of course the point is that the workers of today were the children of yesterday; pinholed into limited performance expectations by parents, teachers, and academic systems. If you had limited artistic skills, how did it feel to be told you were an "D" student? Is it any different for the child whose brain doesn't do well at math? Each child deserves to be acknowledged for who they are and what they can accomplish as individuals and that takes more effort than what we see in today's public schools. Now we have the most outrageous example of rewards run amok-schools and teachers being rewarded for increased grades and test scores. Only a few years later we find out that the grades were falsely reported and teachers complain that they spend all their class time preparing students for tests. Go figure or just read Alfie.
2.0 out of 5 stars Missed the "gravy" train,
What's surprising is that he did this even after (apparently) reading through Skinner's books and even interviewing him. Nevertheless, nobody will accuse Mr. (Dr.?) Kohn of being hard-hearted: He, at least, finds reinforcement in sticking up for the other viewpoint, making us humans feel important again. Skinner probably knew in his heart and head that comparing humans to radishes (we are only here to carry and pass on genes) would not appeal to most people (punishing). Yet, this is what biology has given us: this is our main purpose, the sound and fury notwithstanding.
Alfie (What's it all about?) at least tries to prop up our little egos again, and some of us need that. I found Skinner's viewpoint (in his interview with Alfie) to be close to the Buddhist viewpoint (no egos, no fear of death, et cetera). It also reflects such viewpoints as expressed by biologists in their analyses of human moral systems. Anyway, this book is still worth reading, if only for Skinner's interview in the appendix. Diximus.
5.0 out of 5 stars Parents, teachers and managers must understand Kohn's book,
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Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes by Alfie Kohn (Paperback - Sep 2 1999)
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