One of the things I have always known about myself is that I don’t like competition. Many people think this is because I don’t really follow or participate in sports and therefore don’t enjoy competition.
As I’ve spent more time thinking about myself as a learner I’ve realized that this isn’t the case at all. I don’t like competition because I am an overly empathetic person.
I can’t enjoy ‘winning’ at something or ‘beating’ someone because I am thinking about how sad/bad/upset the person who lost is feeling. This happens whether or not I am participating in the competition, I feel the joy and excitement of the winner but I feel the sadness and defeat of the person losing.
I’m not saying that competition doesn’t have a place and that people don’t learn from winning and losing. I just really, really don’t like competition. I don’t like how schools seem to turn everything into a competition.
Reading has turned into a competition to see who can get the most points on their AR tests and students who get so many points get prizes. When we do fundraisers at school we compete against other grades or classes and the winner gets a prize… shouldn’t doing good for others be the ‘prize’?
As an individual I don’t like competing with people. Being better than another person or gaining recognition is not my motivation to learn or improve. My motivation is that I want to be a better friend and human being to those I know. I want to be a better teacher every day because I want to reach more students and help them find their passion.
I recently read “Innovator’s Mindset” by George Couros. In his book George talks about sharing, and competitive collaboration. At first when I was reading about competition being a good thing I thought “… wait, am I going to disagree with George?” but the more I read, the more I enjoyed George’s point. George Couros also has a blog post about it here http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/5406.
I like the idea of sharing and collaborating with other educators and pushing each other forward to learn more for the benefit of our students. I can get behind the idea of ‘competition’ if everyone comes out a winner, and in the competitive collaboration that George Couros suggests, I think this is a possibility.
Let learning be the outcome or reward for the work that students and teachers do.