Competative Culture, Will There Ever Be An End?

A look at the harmful effects competative learning the ways that we perpetuate it in schools and families.

More and more people are believing that the way to stimulate anyone is through competition. Too many people have been conditioned to live by the myth that competition is good for human beings. There is a competition for just about everything now- a business is not doing so well, give them some competition; airline price wars; writing contests; logo designs; win-a-trip contests. The list is endless. Our inherent nature as human beings is to be cooperative. Society has twisted and formed us into competitive beings. For every competition that someone wins, someone else has to experience the agony of defeat. Is it worth it for any human being to be exposed to any form of hurt? Being defeated does not spur one on to do better. When a person is hurt he responds to that hurt with a negative reaction. Hurt never triggers a positive response. We only have to look at the desperation it causes, the measures that people will go to not to appear to fail- drugging in sports , cheating on exams, corporate espionage, etc.

It is time to stop and take a look at what competition really does to us. Every person is exposed to some form of competition from very early in life, in school and at home. From the moment of birth every baby is pitted against another. Is she as cute as? Are his eyes as beautiful as? Baby photo contests are popular. And in families of more than one child, each child is compared to the other in some way, especially in their academic performance.

School is no longer about fun and learning and making friends. It is about securing one of the limited spaces available at particular colleges or "at the top" in any field.

Competition interferes with our natural capacity to build good relationships. If there are six of us and only four spaces available it becomes very difficult for us to work co-operatively and be concerned about each other's welfare. As parents, we have had experiences with our children having to compete in science fairs or projects at school. Even young children have had to devise tricks to win. Most of the tricks involved denying their own friends the same opportunities, hiding information or material from each other.

Those who naturally do well academically or appear to have some talent will not be subjected to the pressures placed on children by competition. But those who rarely, if ever, win will quit even trying and give in to feelings of hopelessness and inferiority. When we see our children not reaching their full potential as we think they could or should, it may be that they are afraid of not measuring up to our expectations. Experiencing the fear of failure too often leads to giving up. They prefer not to try. The pressure to compete and excel interferes with the child's natural creative intelligence. He conforms, does things in the "normal" or "accepted" way rather than exploring alternatives and coming up with unique responses to situations.

We must examine all the ways we are pitting our children against each other. We won't even let them play together without making it into a somebody-must-win-and-somebody-must-lose situation. We must do away with the grading and labeling systems in schools. Grades must be given for effort and improvement, not on a scale of who is doing better than whom. We must stop the singing competitions, the debating competitions, the essay competitions, the art competitions and the cut-throat sports events. Let us set up system where everyone's talent and ability get developed, encouraged and appreciated.

Do something WITH somebody instead of AGAINST them.

© High Speed Ventures 2011