All the Same Story?

Reading this article, “Competition, education and assessment: connecting history with recent scholarship” by Robert Nelson and Phillip Dawson, with the prompt in mind, it became clear to me that many of the authors we have looked are arguing a very similar statement about competition, just using different approaches and examples. The almost unanimous idea being that: competition is not a necessary or needed phenomenon, and there are solutions to avoid and minimize its effects. This is also an idea I agree with, and believe is something that should be more widely accepted and known.

This topic is widely shared within Molina and Hutcheon’s texts, as well as this one. Specifically, in all of their conclusions. All the articles seem to conclude in offering their insights as a point of “rethinking” of the subject of competition. Molina et al. states, “We believe that such models [of coexisting and competition] might add further complexity and therefore a better understanding of cooperation and competition…” (Molina 14). Similarly, Hutcheon writes, “a rethinking of the idea of counter-discourses may have the potential to offer a new model for out academic ways of thinking…” (Hutcheon 49). As for Nelson and Dawson, they mention that “[their] hope is that integrity of learning might be restored [by abandoning] the assumption that education is about sorting people [in a way that] sets them up in competition” (Nelson 314). All the authors can be seen suggesting an alternative way of going about competition, implying that it is something that should not be a part of society. They want to guide the audience in a direction that involves little to no competition, in turn and in hopes of creating a better society. In terms of structure, this article can be compared to heavily with Werron’s writing, giving many historical examples which don’t directly correlate with their thesis, but still support it.

Personally, as a student, I experience competition in education first hand. To an extent, I understand the competition component of traditional education because the job market is structured upon education and that is how qualifications are determined. However, I do see competition as a flaw in this system as it is something that creates a lot of conflict, but it is not something that cannot be completely eliminated. The text talks about how a ‘pass grade only’, a system essentially bypassing competition, still faces problems of children learning at different levels and students developing anxiety. In my opinion, a way to combat the negative effects of competition would be to minimize the importance of numbers in an education. Instead of focusing mainly on marks and performance scores, the effects of competition may be minimized if success was dependent upon more things about a student such as their practical skills or involvement. This would also have to reform the way the job market works, however, in the end, there would still be some form of competition.

In conclusion, it is clear that there is an overlying consensus between most of the authors that there is a problem with competition in our world and society and there is a way to help improve its effects. Many of the authors we have been reading, including Nelson and Dawson have hopes that the negative effects, stemming from competition, will be reduced in the future using their respective suggestions.


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