Book Review

Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community

Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community

by Alfie Kohn, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria, Va., 2006, 191 pp. with index, $23.95 softcover

The underlying premise held by many educators in 1996 was that students were expected to comply with the teacher’s expectations as the dominant form of classroom control. Alfie Kohn’s first edition of Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community presented a new approach to working with students in classrooms where caring communities found decisions being made by the teacher and the students.

The lasting value of Kohn’s thesis resulted in a second edition of the book. In this 10th anniversary edition, Kohn addresses questions raised by readers, while also expanding on the central themes of the book. The power of his discussion, in the afterward, of newer attempts at classroom management techniques reveals Kohn’s awareness of the shortcomings of the zero-tolerance approach and the value of KIPP schools. Equally impressive are the comments he penned to five actual situations readers posed to him.

Kohn, a former teacher who now writes and speaks on human behavior, education and parenting, also addresses these topics in his latest edition. After presenting his views on curriculum, valuing students for who they are or for what they do and the relationship of control to current high-stakes testing, Kohn acknowledges the work of five sources that were not present a decade ago.

This edition of Beyond Discipline is a worthwhile addition to the professional collection of all school leaders. For those who read it before, this version would be a great review. Kohn’s updates reveal his desire to address his earlier critics while acknowledging the newer works of those who have taken his original thesis and applied it successfully.

Reviewed by George E. Pawlas, professor of educational leadership, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Fla.