Sunday, October 13, 2013

Talking Points #4 on Alfie Kohn- Argument

Alfie Kohn argues in his piece titled “Five Reasons to Stop Saying “Good Job!”” that using the words “Good job” can cause a child to lose interest in something that once brought him or her joy and that praising a child basically tells a them how to feel. Kohn mentions the five main reasons how using the words “good job” can harm a child; manipulating children, creating praise junkies, stealing a child’s pleasure, losing interest, and reducing achievement. Kohn argues that saying these words can manipulate a child and is “a way of doing something to children to get them to comply with our wishes.” He goes on to say how children are hungry for our approval and can become more reliant on our decisions of what is good and what is bad.

Kohn also argues in his article that constantly praising kids causes them to lose interest in certain activities or pastimes in which they are receiving the praise. The kids become bored with what they are doing and no longer wish to participate in the activity. Kohn also points out that “Researchers keep finding that kids who are praised for doing well at a creative task tend to stumble at the next task – and they don’t do as well as children who weren’t praised to begin with.” The constant praising of a child can lead to tasks being done less efficiently than those who are not being constantly praised.

Towards the end of his article, Kohn gives alternatives for the constant praising of children. He says that instead of saying phrases, such as good job, we should either be silent, say what we see, or ask more questions. Instead of providing judgment in our words, we should provide feedback by saying what we see. He also claims that asking a child more questions can nourish a child’s interests. Kohn argues against the use of constant praise with children because of the harms that it can cause and instead promotes asking questions or making statements about what a child has accomplished.

Talking Point: Do you think that it is a good idea to say things such as “good job” to children?  Should we as teachers remove these words from our vocabulary? I know when I was younger I mostly liked hearing teachers and adults telling me that I did a good job. It made me feel like I did decent work and that I did my task correctly.


  1. Cathy,

    I really like that you mention how Kohn says that asking a child questions can nourish their interests. Through asking those questions, we aren't swaying them one way or another. Instead we are allowing them to tell us how they feel which is the greatest thing we can do for them. Let them lead the way! Also, I love the word nourish!

    I am not sure that Kohn is saying that by saying “good job”, we remove the joy from a child’s interest. I think what he is intending is that the joy remains but it no longer is about simply the joy. Instead it’s about the joy they get from it and the praise they can receive from it as well. I find this to be one of the harder points to accept but I see the justification in it.

  2. Cathy,

    Reading your post was very fun. You put a lot of pictures in and it kept me interested and it really hit the targets that you were aiming at. I also liked how the pictures went along with what you were about to talk about. I really enjoyed reading this.