book hack

Punished by Rewards

Alfie Kohn

5 mins

3 key insights

Visual, audio & text

In Punished by Rewards, education and parenting expert Alfie Kohn opposes the widely accepted 'do this, and you'll get that' strategy for teaching good behavior.


Punished by Rewards

Punished by Rewards

by Alfie Kohn


Finish your vegetables and you can have dessert. Do well on the test and you'll get a gold star. Make enough sales and you get an extra vacation day. At home, school, and work, motivating 'good' behavior by promising rewards has long been the norm. But does it really work?

Alfie Kohn is an educational psychologist who has made a career out of questioning conventional wisdom in the field of human learning and behavior. In his 1993 book, Kohn tackles the common behavioral approach to education and child-rearing. Through studies and argument, Kohn builds a case against traditional grading, standardized tests, and incentives.

Favorite quote

There is a time to admire the grace and persuasive power of an influential idea, and there is a time to fear its hold over us. The time to worry is when the idea is so widely shared that we no longer even notice it.

- Alfie Kohn

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