Since we start learning at school or kindergarden we are exposed to teamwork and competition. Competition is everywhere but abundance does not mean positive wealth. Currently, the world is changing strenously fast and many people might be left behind. We NEED to become competitive in order to suceed. Are we doing the right thing when asking our students to compete among them?
As a teacher what I have been taught is that competition can be used to motivate students and I agree. However, we might be encouraging negative concepts. Should we eliminate competition? I’d rather say that we have to be careful about it and also rethink the types of competition we spur but who wouldn’t desire living in a noncompetitive world?
I agree with the comparison Mario Herrera did in his BIG FUN book presentation. He had us think about children parties. Here in Lima many people hire clowns to entertain their kids and “a good clown presents a fun repertoir while a bad one just divides the kids into groups of girls and boys and has them compete during all the party.” Don’t misinterpret my point, it’s not about being a bad teacher. What I want to focus on is that competition can promote sexism or might discourage some students. One solution we discussed at work was rewarding all the students for their participation. While it might work it does not change the fact that some will feel as losers and if the winners are not considerate they may wound them even if not on purpose.
For instance, I recently taught a very nice group of students who were very polite with each other and who helped each other when a lesson was not easy for them. I had them compete several times and at times we didn’t count the points obtained and they didn’t pay attention to it. Yet such proceeding won’t work with the majority of kids.
On the other hand, other groups are fiercer when comepeting and they enjoy themselves even if they lose. Even so there are other people that don’t and act as “sourlosers”. Another case I’ve been witness of is students not saying a word but showing discontent and later not feeling eager to participate.
After analyzing the latter and reading about the issue I believe that we have a difficult task to deal with. We could design competitive activities that aim for collaboration in the process and collaborative tasks that engage. We should envision future citizens rather than future professionals as cooperative people looking forward a better world for everyone.
I have written some of my thoughts and I am including some site with ideas for collaborative classroom activites below the links for further reading.
Competition vs collaboration
Collaboration AND Competition
Competition Can’t Beat Collaboration
Why Teachers Do Not Use Collaborative/Cooperative Learning
Teacher collaboration, professional communities improve many elementary school students’ math scores:
A Study and a Proposal of a Collaborative and Competitive Learning Methodology: