Reading Response, Competition, Education and Assessment

Nelson et. al examines competition in academia in present days as compared to the past, they start their reasoning by arguing that competition and assessment were never part of the learning system existing in the time of various famous philosophers. The writers show credibility of their claim that “competition distracts the spirit of curiosity which motivates education among scholars nowadays because they tend to be more focused on their GPA than the knowledge itself” by linking curiosity and competition closely into human psyche. Just like Linda Hutcheon’s paper, the word “Agony” is also used by Nelson et. al as a rhetorical move to give the idea that competition leads to violence even in academia.

As compared to Bateson’s “The myth of independence” , Bateson was trying to prove to the audience that competition is very bad and humanity can only be saved through cooperation, Bateson never saw any value in competition and she argued that the phenomena is undermining humanity and peoples capabilities. In contrast, Nelson et. al appreciates the progress that competition has allowed in the fields of music, art and sports but at the same time prove it to be a bad influence in the academia arena and advocate for its moderation to foster more learning and curiosity. The article does not argue to eradicate competition completely in the field of education but they want it to be lessen and moderated. The authors believe that we can do great with just a little competition and not extreme.

The fact that competition is a circumstance where every winner has a loser as a counter part making it a” zero-sum game” made the authors also illustrate a reciprocal relationship of anxiety between teachers and students with competition being a state which one is satisfied with life at the expense of another.

The best part of the article articulates the reasons why people tend to compete with one another, some of the examples given are…The fears of rejection, need for validation, hyper competitive attitudes, feeling inferior to others and also submissive behaviours. The cost of a leading a competitive life tend to be one of the causes of severe mental health cases, for instance, stress, anxiety and depression.

To sum up, Nelson and Dawson also explored the field of art and creativity to explore competition more profoundly. They acknowledge the role of competition as an a motivation in boosting performance as artists are able to come up with amazing creations under pressure.

We can be good with just the right amount of competition not extreme.


  1. Hey thanks for sharing this post I really enjoyed reading it!

    I also thought that the correlation they established between increased competitiveness and higher stress levels was really interesting. Reflecting on my personal life I can definitely see how this is true. Given that this correlation exists I wonder if these ideals for reducing competition in higher education would also be very effective at reduce stress for younger children.

    Great post!


  2. Thanks for the comment, I think the idea of reducing competition in education would also reduce stress in younger children because they will be growing knowing that they are living in a less competitive world. This makes more sense knowing that they are not in a tense environment.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s