Book Review

Feel-Bad Education

And Other Contrarian Essays on Schooling and Children

by Alfie Kohn, Beacon Press, Boston, Mass., 2011, 208 pp., $15 softcover


Alfie Kohn’s latest treatise, a compilation of recent education articles and essays he has published elsewhere, addresses progressive education, motivating students, rubrics for assessment, student cheating and the cult of rigor.



The author challenges many of today’s education solutions as fads, supporting his analysis by citing various authors, educators and researchers.

On the subject of assessment and rubrics, Kohn points out that while uniform and compatible standards are worthy goals when talking about the manufacturing of DVD players, trying to interpret a child’s understanding of ideas is a different matter. He believes rubrics are a tool of standardization and is surprised at the number of educators who are opposed to standardized tests and curricula yet fail to extend that opposition to standardized in-class assessments in the form of rubrics.

The reader will find much to reflect upon in Feed-Bad Education, and will be mindful of controversies that are still unexplored in this short but enjoyable volume.

Reviewed by William J. Leary, professor, Ross College of Education, Lynn University, Boca Raton, FL