Punished by Rewards Book Summary - Punished by Rewards Book explained in key points

Punished by Rewards summary

Alfie Kohn

Brief summary

Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn challenges the use of rewards as a motivator, arguing that they can be counterproductive and diminish intrinsic motivation. Kohn advocates for a more holistic approach to learning and behavior.

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    Punished by Rewards
    Summary of key ideas

    Understanding the Flaws in Reward Systems

    In Punished by Rewards, Alfie Kohn challenges the conventional wisdom that rewards are effective motivators. He argues that rewards, such as praise, grades, or bonuses, are not only ineffective but also counterproductive in fostering intrinsic motivation and creativity. Kohn begins by examining the psychological research that demonstrates how rewards can undermine the very behavior they are intended to promote.

    He explains that rewards, by their nature, are controlling and manipulative. They encourage people to focus on the reward rather than the task itself, leading to a decrease in interest and enjoyment. Kohn also highlights the negative impact of rewards on relationships, as they create a transactional dynamic that erodes trust and cooperation.

    The Pitfalls of Using Rewards in Education and Parenting

    Kohn then applies his critique of rewards to the realms of education and parenting. He argues that the prevalent use of grades and gold stars in schools not only fails to enhance learning but also damages students' intrinsic motivation and intellectual curiosity. Similarly, he criticizes the common practice of using rewards to control children's behavior, suggesting that it hinders their ability to develop self-discipline and moral reasoning.

    According to Kohn, the reliance on rewards in these contexts reflects a broader cultural obsession with extrinsic motivators. He contends that our society's focus on competition, rewards, and external validation has led to a decline in creativity, critical thinking, and genuine engagement in both children and adults.

    Shifting Towards Intrinsic Motivation

    Despite his critique, Kohn doesn't advocate for a reward-free world. Instead, he suggests that we need to shift our focus from extrinsic motivators to intrinsic motivation. He emphasizes the importance of autonomy, mastery, and purpose in fostering genuine motivation and satisfaction in our work and lives.

    Kohn also explores alternative approaches to motivation, such as cooperative learning in education and self-managed teams in the workplace. He presents examples of organizations and schools that have successfully implemented these approaches, demonstrating that people can be motivated by a desire for mastery, a sense of purpose, and a supportive community.

    Embracing Intrinsic Motivation in Practice

    In the final section of Punished by Rewards, Kohn offers practical suggestions for embracing intrinsic motivation in our daily lives. He encourages parents and educators to focus on nurturing children's natural curiosity and love of learning, rather than using rewards and punishments to control their behavior.

    Similarly, he advises managers to create work environments that support autonomy, encourage mastery, and foster a sense of purpose. Kohn concludes by emphasizing that the shift from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation is not only possible but also essential for creating a more fulfilling and productive society.

    Final Thoughts

    In Punished by Rewards, Alfie Kohn presents a thought-provoking critique of our reliance on rewards as motivators. He challenges us to reconsider our assumptions about human motivation and offers a compelling vision of a world where people are driven by their intrinsic desires for autonomy, mastery, and purpose. While his ideas may be controversial, Kohn's book provides a valuable perspective on the complex nature of motivation and the potential pitfalls of relying too heavily on external rewards.

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    What is Punished by Rewards about?

    'Punished by Rewards' challenges the widely accepted belief that rewards are effective motivators. Alfie Kohn argues that rewards, such as praise, grades, and incentives, can actually decrease intrinsic motivation and hinder performance. Through thought-provoking research and real-life examples, Kohn offers a compelling case for reevaluating our use of rewards in parenting, education, and the workplace.

    Punished by Rewards Review

    Punished by Rewards (1993) challenges the conventional wisdom that rewards are an effective tool for motivation. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It presents a persuasive argument against the use of rewards, highlighting how they can undermine intrinsic motivation and hinder creativity.
    • Through an examination of psychological research and real-life examples, the book offers a thought-provoking alternative approach to raising children and managing employees.
    • With its clear and logical structure, the book presents complex ideas in a way that is accessible and engaging, ensuring that readers won't find it boring.

    Who should read Punished by Rewards?

    • Parents looking for alternative approaches to disciplining and motivating their children
    • Educators seeking to create a more intrinsic motivation in their students
    • Managers and leaders interested in understanding the limitations of using rewards in the workplace

    About the Author

    Alfie Kohn is a well-known author and lecturer who has written extensively on education, parenting, and human behavior. He challenges traditional thinking and offers thought-provoking insights into the effects of rewards and punishments on motivation and learning. Some of his other notable works include No Contest: The Case Against Competition and The Myth of the Spoiled Child. Kohn's books have sparked important conversations and have had a significant impact on how we approach these areas of life.

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    Punished by Rewards FAQs 

    What is the main message of Punished by Rewards?

    The main message of Punished by Rewards challenges the use of rewards as a motivator and proposes alternative methods for encouraging intrinsic motivation.

    How long does it take to read Punished by Rewards?

    The reading time for Punished by Rewards varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Punished by Rewards a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Punished by Rewards is a thought-provoking read that explores the limitations of using rewards as a motivator. It offers valuable insights for anyone interested in understanding human motivation.

    Who is the author of Punished by Rewards?

    The author of Punished by Rewards is Alfie Kohn.

    What to read after Punished by Rewards?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Punished by Rewards, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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