Skip to main content

Welcome, the Hub connects all projects


Why Students Lose When 'Tougher Standards' Win


In this interview, published in the September 1999 issue of "Educational Leadership," Alfie Kohn sharply criticizes the "Tougher Standards" movement. Kohn argues that most "tough" content standards reward memorization by students and promote uniformity among learning and teaching styles. We include this quote from Kohn to illustrate his main contentions:

"If traditionalists are right that our schools are in trouble, it's hard to argue that progressive practices are responsible if those practices are actually quite rare. In fact, the argument is turned on its head. If students aren't achieving the way we'd like, if they lack a disposition to learn, it may be precisely because schools continue to be so traditional. Indeed, that's exactly what the latest international mathematics comparisons suggest: Our kids are at a comparative disadvantage because the 'back to basics' folks have won."