The Inadequacies of Formal Education: Alfie Kohn’s Argument

1. Introduction

Alfie Kohn is a well-known educational thinker and writer who has been highly critical of the formal education system. In his book, The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving beyond Traditional Classrooms and “Tougher Standards”, Kohn argues that the institutionalized education system has failed to create well-rounded individuals and well-informed citizens. According to Kohn, the primary purpose of education should be to develop students’ social, reasoning, and communication skills so that they can participate fully in society.

2. Alfie Kohn’s Argument

Kohn’s argument is based on the premise that the current formal education system is not adequate for preparing students for the real world. He contends that the focus on standardized testing and rote learning does not promote deep understanding or critical thinking. Furthermore, Kohn argues that the traditional educational model fails to develop important personal qualities such as creativity, curiosity, and motivation.

3. The Fallacy of Formal Education

One of the major problems with formal education is that it often fails to teach students how to think for themselves. Instead of encouraging independent thought, formal education often relies on rote learning and memorization. This type of learning does not promote critical thinking or problem solving skills. Furthermore, formal education often fails to develop important personal qualities such as creativity, curiosity, and motivation.

4. Conclusion

Alfie Kohn’s argument provides a strong case against the traditional formal education system. The current educational model fails to promote deep understanding or critical thinking. Furthermore, it often fails to develop important personal qualities such as creativity, curiosity, and motivation. If we want to prepare our students for the real world, we need to rethink the way we educate them.


The definition of "educated" typically refers to someone who has attended and completed an educational institution, such as a university. However, it can also refer to someone who has gained knowledge in a particular subject area through self-study or experience.

There is no definitive answer to this question. In general, people who are considered to be educated have usually gone through some form of formal education, such as attending school or university. However, there are many different opinions on what it means to be truly educated.

Yes, there is a difference between being literate and being educated. Literacy refers to the ability to read and write, while education refers to the process of learning about various subjects. An educated person is typically someone who has not only attained literacy skills, but also possesses knowledge in a variety of areas.

Some benefits of being an educated person include having greater career opportunities, being able to engage in intelligent conversations on a variety of topics, and possessing the ability to think critically about complex issues.

There are many ways in which one can become educated. Formal education institutions like schools and universities provide structured learning environments where students can gain knowledge in specific subject areas from qualified teachers or professors. However, one can also learn informally by reading books or articles on various topics, listening to lectures or podcasts, or engaging in thoughtful conversations with others about interesting ideas.

Once someone is considered to be educated, they can continue learning new things throughout their life in order to maintain and expand their knowledge base. However, it is not necessary for someone to continuously learn new things in order to be considered educated.

Education is important because it helps individuals develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in life. It also allows people to better understand the world around them and make informed decisions about important issues.