About Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon

Alfie Kohn writes and speaks widely on human behavior, education, and parenting. He is the author of 14 books and scores of articles including Schooling Beyond Measure And Other Unorthodox Essays About Education. Kohn's criticisms of competition and rewards in education have been widely discussed and debated. He has been described in Time magazine as "perhaps the country's most outspoken critic of education's fixation on grades [and] test scores."


Past Teacher Forums:

  • 2015 - Interpretive Discussion: Engaging Students in Text-Based Conversations, with Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon
  • 2014 - The Moral Dilemmas of Teaching - Small Moments that Matter with Anna Richert
  • 2013 - Silence in the Classroom, with Kathy Schultz
  • 2012 - Seeing Learning, with Steve Seidel
  • 2011 - Cultivating an Ethic of Excellence in Schools, with Ron Berger
  • 2010 - Collaborative Learning in the Classroom: Awaken the Joy of Interpreting Texts, with Orit Kent
  • 2009 - Accountable Talk: Classroom Conversations that Promote Learning, with Sarah Michaels


Alfie Kohn

Alfie Kohn

Choices in the Classroom: From Coercion to Community


Sunday, February 28, 2016
Brandeis University

  • What's the single greatest obstacle to creating more democratic classrooms?
  • How can students make decisions about learning both individually and collectively?
  • Is it realistic for kids to participate in designing the curriculum?

If we want students to take responsibility for their behavior and learning, it is up to us to give them responsibilities. Children (of all ages) learn to make good decisions by having the chance to decide about what happens to them every day -- not by following someone else's directions. Research shows that students learn more effectively and care more about what they are learning when they have some say about what is going on. Like adults, they suffer from burnout when they feel powerless. 

Alfie Kohn will describe the whys and the hows of bringing students into the process of making decisions about everything from how their classroom will be decorated to how their learning will be assessed. He will also discuss limits on children's right to choose and teachers' use of “pseudochoice” to perpetuate their own control.

Each year the Mandel Center Teacher Forum brings educators together to explore central ideas in teaching and learning.

The 2016 Teacher Forum is co-sponsored by the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education and the Delet Alumni Network (DAN).