Competition in school is harmful to the students. As unglamorous as it sounds, the purpose of a public education is to prepare the young person to enter the workplace as a fully functional worker. Competition encourages rugged individualists. The workplace needs team players who will cooperatively work together to meet common goals. The workplace does not need a group of stars who will not share the bonus and who work alone rather than working together.
The more successful competitor, winner, or individual with a superior grade point average may develop an exaggerated sense of importance and think he/she contributes more than is really the case. The unsuccessful competitor, loser, or individual with the lowest grades will develop low self-esteem. Low self-esteem results in the feeling that it isn't worth putting oneself out for anything which lowers the productivity of the work team and leads to unemployment. A poor self image leads to the belief that the individual is disliked by parents, co-workers, and bosses. Students and adults who lack confidence distrust their own abilities.
Good school work should produce good feelings, pride, and self worth. Success in school also has a bearing on future career choices. Many academic competitions actually determine how fast a student learns rather than if a student grasps the concepts or can apply them. The Scrips Spelling Bee isn't a competition among average students. The Scrips Bee winners study spelling all the time and pride themselves on the esoteric words they learn how to spell.
That is why it is so important that there are no cuts in T-ball and Little League; that everyone gets to play. They don't even keep score in T-ball to develop the basics in all players and to show that there are no stars and that everyone contributes to the team. It is true that everyone cannot play basketball like Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan didn't play basketball very well until he was in high school. If he had been cut from youth basketball programs, he would have never developed his basketball abilities.
The relationship between self confidence and good work is circular. Self confidence is derived from the ability to do work which is acceptable to or in keeping with the self picture. If students start out assuming that the impossible is expected, then they will not develop self confidence. Self confidence must take root and grow in order for excellence and accomplishment to be eventually possible. Low grades doom much of the population to unnecessary years of low pay, low social standing, and hopelessness. The low grades they received in their schooling gave them a poor self image and made them anxious about taking course work at a vocational school or college that would lead to careers with more economic stability.
When schools stop being competitive, they will stop being judges, graders, and labelers. Then the schools can become educators and help students grow in self esteem, become lifelong learners, and become contributors rather than takers. Criticizing, reprimanding, punishing, looking for flaws, builds losers not winners.
Competition is a poor substitute for the academic and social challenges that students should be facing. Challenges and competitions both aspire to get students to do their best, but competition creates fear of failure whereas challenges present opportunities.
Certai nly, there are competitive people. Those individuals thrive on winning, on being better than everyone else. Throughout their lives, competitive people will put themselves into competition. Because it suits them, because it is who they are. Athletes are a prime example. If they don't win the race or the game, they lose. Losing makes them train harder. Competitive motivation pushes these people to excel. It also pushes many people away. Competition does not belong in the educational arena.
Education is about gaining skills and knowledge. It is also about learning who we...
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