By Sam Piha, Director of Temescal Associates
Over the last 25 years, Alfie Kohn has been a critical voice in education. He has, through his writings and presentations, urged us to focus on the child instead of the student; on learning instead of achievements. As the pressures of No Child Left Behind increased, he was unafraid to speak freely about these topics. Thus, it is most appropriate that he is featured on “Please Speak Freely.”
The latest rage in educational reform seems to be the notion of extended learning time (ELT). We have known for some time that children learn regardless of the time of day or the particular season. This idea is not new to those in the afterschool and summer learning movements. However, ELT for many appears to be about extended seat time and extending the school day. In my recent interview with Karen Pittman (Forum for Youth Investment), she cautioned, “The most important thing to remember is simply that more time doesn’t necessarily equal more learning. Learning opportunities must be high quality if they are going to produce more learning – whether they happen in classrooms or CBOs.”
|By Alfie Kohn
Alfie Kohn and Eric also talked about the importance of promoting young people’s creativity. Creativity is re-entering the educational debate as evidence by two recent articles in Education Week. According to Sarah D. Sparks, “Teaching creativity has been a hot-button topic this fall, from the National Academy of Education's annual meeting in Washington to a Learning and the Brain conference in Boston. Yet researchers are just beginning to determine what makes some students more creative than their peers, and how the classroom environment can nurture or smother that ability.” You can also view an entertaining presentation by Sir Ken Robinson on how we can kill young people’s creativity.
|By Alfie Kohn
Daniel Pink and RSAnimate created an entertaining and brief video entitled “The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.” He presents evidence that shows that being self-directed, the joy of mastery, and the sense of purpose trumps the offering of rewards. To only offer carrots and sticks for performance “assumes that we are just better smelling horses”. His video provides good food for thought and I highly recommend afterschool program and educational leaders share it with their staff and facilitate the hearty discussions that will follow.