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Six “C”s

Whoo Hoo! I found another non-mainstream heretic to learn from: Mr. Alfie Kohn.

I’m currently in the process of reading Mr. Kohn’s book: “Punished By Rewards“. PBR is a well researched and eloquently written diatribe against anything that reeks of the Skinnerian dogma:  “Do This And You’ll Get That“. Mr. Kohn is a staunch opponent of rewards, punishments and any other form of external control.

People don’t resist change. They resist being changed. – Unknown

Applying his rhetoric to parenting, the classroom, and the corpricracy, Alfie cites study after study and experiment after experiment in which all external motivational actions perpetrated by “authorities” achieve only short term results while destroying intrinsic motivation and ensuring long term, negative consequences – like reluctant compliance and uncreative, mechanistic doing.

The classic (and reasonable) question posed most often to Mr. Kohn is “if rewards and punishments don’t work, what alternatives are there Mr. Smartie Pants?“. Of course, he doesn’t have a nice and tidy answer, but he cites three “C”s: Choice, Collaboration, and Content, as the means of bringing out the willful best in children, students, and employees.

Much like Dan Pink‘s big 3 (mastery, autonomy, and purpose), creating an environment and supporting culture in which Alfie’s three “C”s are manifest is devilishly difficult. In familial, educational, and corporate systems, their hierarchical structures naturally suppress Alfie’s 3 “C”s while nurturing  this 3 “C” alternative:

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