Explaining the “Pain Fetish” to Mr. Rotherham

Dan Willingham has written a must-read piece about third-rate huckster Alfie Kohn. But we’ll get to that later.

The gall, the gall! says Andy Rotherham. In “Breaking News: Psychologist Dan Willingham has a pain fetish,” Rotherham writes:

Seriously.  Why else would he take this on?

That’s the extent of the post.

Rotherham is apparently so stunned, so shocked and so confused about why one would enter this debate that I think he deserves a brief explanation. Here goes:

Dear Mr. Rotherham,

Professor Willingham will ‘take on’ this topic because he has a commitment to intellectual honesty and a strain of courage which a great deal of education thinkers lack.


Matthew K. Tabor

It’s that simple, Mr. Rotherham.

Criticizing the likes of Kohn is fairly painless. The professional blowback is a bit like being attacked by thousands of self-professed educators wielding peacock feathers. It never hurts, but occasionally it tickles so darn much that you strain a muscle or two from the laughter.

UPDATE: DW isn’t the first to deliver a few inconvenient truths to Kohn – D-Ed Reckoning weighed in on Kohn back in 2006. Read’em both.