Benefits Of Competition

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Under what circumstances, if any, is competition beneficial?

With all the new educational and parenting reforms and practices cropping up, it can be hard for kids and adults to make decisions regarding what the best path to a happy, healthy childhood is. How do adults incorporate technology into children’s everyday lives without letting kids spend to long on screens? What is the best way of teaching kids math – is hands-on really better than drills and practice sheets? But perhaps one of the most debated parts of childhood is competition. Competition has been around for the longest of times, back when people fought over food and space. Now, more and more studies are coming out regarding competition and the effect it has on young people.
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They believe competition creates a cycle of losing and feeling bad about oneself, which no child should be forced to handle. For example, Alfie Kohn states that our “competitive society has changed our sense of self-worth”, causing many to believe that victory and success are the same thing. He also says that in “a competitive culture, a child is told that it isn’t enough to be good – he must triumph over others”, creating a society in which winning is the only option. But the drive to win is important. “Experts warn: Don’t try to cut winning out entirely. It can’t be done. And it’s OK for kids to want to win” (Turner). Many believe that eliminating competition is the only choice. However, the motivation to win is extremely important and can never be fully eliminated. “By suppressing competition, we are failing to prepare the next generation for the realities of the world” (Pandel). Also, in the real world, students will have to deal with failure and competition. Removing competition from their childhood does not prepare them for such challenges. In addition, the motivation to win is intrinsic (coming from child themselves). When competing, “students are internally motivated” (Pandel), and since those who are intrinsically motivated typically get the best results from being involved, competition is healthy for kids.

Clearly, competition is beneficial for kids until one becomes more concerned with beating others than improving. Everyone deals with competition at some point in their life, be it competing for a job or trying to buy the latest laptop before it’s out of stock at the nearby shop. The controversy stems from how individuals approach competition. The approaches vary from the need to beat out everyone else for first place to wanting to improve upon the previous
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