June 20, 1997
12027 10th Ave. So.
Seattle, WA 98168
P.O. Box 48119
Seattle, WA 98148
This is a reply to David Miller's "Teachers, you deserve to give
yourselves a big, fat A+" opinion on June 18.
I have been reading an interesting book by Alfie Kohn titled "Punished
by Rewards." It is a large book with hundreds of references. Alfie
has concluded that we should be very careful about praising other
people. I think I agree with him when he says praising and artificial
awards tend to cause two undesirable changes in the people being
First, you may damage someone else's spirit by interfering with their
efforts to define themselves. It is similar to growing pole peas. One
can easily break a vine and kill the plant by attempting to change its
path up the strings.
Second, the person you are praising may get "hooked" on the praising
rather than relying on the self satisfaction resulting from doing a good
David Miller writes articles that cause me to think about things of
importance. I thank The News for publishing his ideas.
Dale R. Reed