The influence of Competition in Education.

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Through the works of Nelson and Dawson, the question of the motivations behind the current education system arise and I agree with their point of view as to the need to restore the integrity of learning.


Like the works of Hutcheon, Nelson and Dawson reference the origin of certain words since ancient times and talk about the development of the meaning of the words over time. By doing so, like Hutcheon, he allows the reader to gain a historical insight on the development of competition and promotes the reader to think about the manner in which competition has developed and whether said development is correct or not. The denoted version of competition today with respect to education is that of having a higher grade or mark than other students, making their motivation more about grade performance rather than that of the beauty of knowledge. As said by Dawson, this suggests a ‘cheap motivation’ in the education system which I wholly agree with and also believe that more than a grading system based against others, it should be based on the ability of a person to perform a task.

From my personal experience, when I was pitted in a highly competitive atmosphere in my freshman and sophomore years in high school, I was forced to learn and compete against other students in a single manner, with everyone being forced to do the same thing and in the same manner. Such a system caused major hindrances to me as the limiting of my own thoughts was reflected in the grades I received. However, upon entering the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, although I was still pitted against other individuals in the field of education, I was given more freedom in applying my own thoughts and given opportunities to research and present topics with my full ability and interest while following basic guidelines. By doing so, I was able to appreciate what I was learning rather than what I was forced to compete because of which naturally improved my performance.

Much like this, Nelson and Dawson also speak of depression in students, which I have previously read about through an article by Jane Collingwood which shows high percentages of students experiencing depression, which, as mentioned by Nelson and Dawson could be due to the fear of inferiority, the need for validation and other such influences. This, in my opinion, should be more than enough reason for a remodelling of the education system as the future generations are being psychologically harmed by the current hyper-competitive nature of education.

Despite this, I can see the necessity for such competition in education due to factors of motivation being hard to come by when it comes to just ‘appreciation of knowledge’. Nelson and Dawson see this too and can draw parallels to Worrell’s work as well, which suggests that even psychologically speaking, motivation to perform well can often be when placed in a system of high competition, especially when it comes to fostering talent and potential in sports.


Hence, despite my opinion, I believe that further research into how such a structure of competition influences education could allow us to have further insight on perhaps whether certain aspects of education could do with remodelling or if the whole system needs to revamped.

1 Comment

  1. I like that you use your own learning experience to explicate your argument. I had the same feeling of getting enlightenment when I was studying in international high school.


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