Seeing Through The Lens Of Competition in Education

Before this week comes to an end I would just like to highlight some thoughts that I conjured up upon reading this week’s article.

To be honest, when reading this article about competition in education by Nelson & Dawson I felt a sense of nostalgia in a way. The use of having competition in education does benefit the capitalists who consider the “best” and “worst” students based on grades and the scaling system itself. Competition is seen as a problem in education due to the fact that it makes us feel lesser than ourselves; it gives us a reason to compete for the top score and to be the best based on the standards that achievements are everything in society. However, I do not think that competition in itself is a bad way of perceiving education. It gives a reason to learn for the greater and strive for something more than what we were/had before. Similar to a couple weeks ago when we discussed this idea of competition being a factor of evolution and that we would not be in this industrialized global world today without competition.

In Tuesday’s class we discussed how if we can consider removing competition from education as a whole, and in what way would it effect the educative system. When Michael talked about this school that has done this by removing the whole marking system as a whole, what surprised me was the fact that even if there were no scaling system the students who study there are generally intelligent. This gave me a sense that even if we remove competition from education, we would still see competition everywhere we went whether at school or at work especially. The concept that we could try to remove competition from education but it would not work is something that I learned during the presentation today. People have tried to remove competition from different discourses or tried to change peoples perspective on negatively perceived competition such as last week when we talked about stereotypes. Yet, I do not think that competition is all that bad. Yes, competitive education does give us anxiety, stress, and depression all the time throughout our life, but if we take it away how do we strive to become a better person and learn more about life without these experiences.

Comparison is a big thing when discussing education because we always compare ourselves to others on a daily basis, that even today it could be considered a stereotype threat as we unconsciously do this. Last week during my presentation on competition in psychology I gave an example on how when your friend does better than you on a test and you do not do as well, we would feel bad about ourself which would end up giving us a perceived idea of competition. We can see this example through Cheryl’s identification on Garcia’s piece of how “we are more willing to help strangers than our friends and feel more threatened by the success of our friends than by strangers.” In education we unconsciously compare ourselves to others due to the fact that they are smarter or better than us. It is not something to feel bad about though, instead, we should take into consideration that we as social individuals are not perfect. No one is better than another and a test mark is just a number. If we can take into reasoning and understanding that we all have our own faults and we continuously make mistakes, would society become less competitive?

The answer is “it depends.” Everything depends on our own experiences as people. Therefore, it’s just to say that in education even if we fail, make a mistake, or do terribly in a course it does not make us less of a person than any other human being on campus.

Through Bateson, Hutcheon, and Van Loo I can see that collaborating with others is really the best solution to the whole problem of competition in education. If we work together as a community, as a society, then will we then be able to achieve greater things compared to individuality. Because everyone has different opinions and experiences to convey to the world, we can all help each other strive for a better sense of individuality; that we can only find our own self by first clearly understanding the differences of others. Hence, we would not be in such a world without competition and cooperation.

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  1. Hello Shaina,
    Thanks for your reply to the education reading, I enjoyed lots of the points you pulled out and the observations you made!
    I noticed that you made the query of how students stay motivated if competition was removed from education, but I do not believe this is true. For me personally, I have no goals in education that are tied to competiting with my peers, and I find more worth and more drive through intrinsic motivation. I find my goal for university is to gain knowledge and become a more well informed individual, not to compete for grades and the disproportionatly low job oppertunites in my field after I graduate. Do you think that competition is the only way to incentivize students into getting their degree? Or are there students and programs where knowledge and internal drive could make school easier, less stressful, and more successful?


  2. I think it’s just like we said in class that we should try it out first see the results and figure out if removing competition negatively or positively effects students. In high school I always had the idea of being better then other people but as I gradually learned more about the academia and that we all have some sort of academic mistake and problems I started to think of how to remove competition from my inner thoughts and perspectives. I think I do agree with you in the sense that we don’t need competition to be motivated to learn in school. However, I do also think that we couldn’t have gotten this industrialized global society without competition. I guess the perception of competition depends on every individual’s own perspective of it. Thanks for the reply!


  3. Your introduction started off with the claim of nostalgia for yourself, and I would have liked to see more elaboration on your personal experience given this topic. Nonetheless, I just want to acknowledge that you did a careful and thorough job in addressing all aspects of competition in education – referring to class discussions, classmates, and course articles. I noticed you giving honest insight on the matter and even applying your knowledge to the bigger context of what competition in education means and entails, I agree with most of what you said in that respect. Regardless, most aspects of this topic are apart of on going research and debate, yet you did a good job in clarifying those variables and facts for fellow students to create their own insight, and ultimately their own ideas and conclusions to the matter – and that means you made a great conclusive post to this weeks topic in my opinion, good job.


  4. Hi thank you for the comment. I appreciate the points where you discussed how I acknowledged everyone’s perspective through my post. I think when I said nostalgia it just reminded me of the days in grade school where I would always let myself down for not doing well in school and always putting myself down because I compared myself to other classmates. However, from grade 11 I started to understand that even if I fail a test I will still have my family and friends to support me. I found this sense of cooperation from the live my social environment gave me which is why I said a sense of nostalgia. We do unconsciously compare ourselves even if we do not want to. I think from this piece we can all learn how to think of competition as something that makes us achieve greater things for ourselves and not for anyone else.

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  5. Hello Shaina, thank you very much for your post highlighting your opinion and other perspectives on competition in education. In fact, I agree with you on competition, despite it being harmful in nature with stress and anxiety, but it may be necessary for growth and learning. It is important in our society to not just complain when there is stress and deal with it in a health way – thus, maybe by overcoming the hardships of competitive education students will come out strong and smarter. However, if the competition is too harsh that can also be a problem, for example with self harm from stress or any other serious forms of harm from that competition is a problem. Anyways, thank you! I definitely agree with you and we should open up this side for discourse and analyses! Thank you!
    Regards, Charles


  6. Thanks for the comment Charles! Really appreciate you agreeing with some of the concepts I discussed in this post. I also agree with what you said about harmful competition which is a huge problem with that his idea of competition. So, I think it is necessary for there to be cooperations and collaborations with others in this sense; that if you are going through tough and stressful times it will be nice to talk to someone or anyone about it. Whoever you think will give you support, care, and love to help you overcome negative competition and strive for more cooperation with the help of others.


  7. It’s a really good reading response.When competition is really eliminated in various fields, people are comfortable with the status quo and forget progress because of the lazy nature of human beings. In addition, as we discussed in class, if there is no competition and we want to complete a housing construction project, we cannot choose the right architect based on the competition’s ranking of architects. Although competition does bring us some pressure and anxiety, competition does promote the development of humanity as a whole.


  8. Thanks for the comment. Glad you liked my response about competition being something we do need to continue as a society. I agree with what you also said about competition being something that does promotes the development of humanity as a whole because I think competition is a whole social construct that people can perceive as negative at times, but without it our society wouldn’t be able to evolve.


  9. Thank you for your post! I enjoyed your analysis, and I like how you connected the reading to the previous readings.

    I agree with your opinion that competition in itself is not necessarily bad. As you stated, competition motivates students, and encourages them to lean and aim for the higher goals. I think that the degree of how much students are motivated by competition in education depends on where they are placed in the ranking. I think that while competition has a good effect on students who rank high, it influences negatively students who rank Low as it discourages them.

    How do you think education can improve competition for students with a low rank?


  10. Hi thank you for the comment. I agree with what you say about rank in education and how for students who do more poorly feel very dejected about their marks. I honestly think education should take out this whole ranking system but at the same time it would be very hard to. One reason is that students wouldn’t be able to know how to improve or what to improve on, on the other hand most students are in school just to learn and do not feel competitive in education at all. In all honesty, the best thing that education can do for low ranking students right now is to make sure they are getting the same amount of support as the high ranking students. People need to understand that a rank is just a number and that it does not define you as a person. Many teachers do explain this a lot before a midterm or a final but I think the whole educative system needs to work on a better psychological environment for them to study in. Also, instead of putting emphasis on test marks they should put more emphasis on assignments that show what we know rather than proving we know something.


  11. Hi Shaina, really liked your commentary on the idea of taking out competition from schools. I was wondering, however, because even though I agree with the idea that even if we take out competition from schools, competition would still occur, should competition in schools be taken out or be replaced with an alternative form of competition or should cooperation be the main target to hit when it comes to education. As competition as you said, is essentially inherent to us as people as even when the system hypothetically takes out the notion of competition, competition still occurs.


  12. Thanks for the comment Aaron! I’m glad you agree with some of the concepts I pointed out in my post. I think we should understand try to understand how competition can negatively effect us beforehand as a means to aim for cooperation. Competition and cooperation work together so I think understanding how both can effect us negatively and positively in education will give us a better viewpoint. In class when Michael discussed how he thinks competition is relevant in our lives but we do not need it made me think of this idea of perspectives. We all have different perspectives of competition, therefore, if we are able to understand how competition can negatively effect our idea of education then will we be able to look for cooperation.


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