Many teachers and parents have strong views on competition in schools. Some think that it’s bad, that it robs students’ self-esteem and increases their level of anxiety about their education. Then there are those who believe that it is not only beneficial to students, but vital to their overall education. However, if you look closely and think it through, you will probably find that competition in schools has both positive and negative aspects.
There’s nothing like a little healthy competition in the classroom. It motivates students and drives them to put forth their best effort. It sparks interest, passion and ignites a fire within. Healthy competition “requires teamwork and positive participation. Participants are encouraged to improve themselves and learn a new technique. Winning is just an added bonus.” It keeps students aligned with the purpose and process while practicing good sportsmanship.
There are many benefits of healthy competition. Healthy competition:
- builds classroom community by strengthening relationships
- helps develop problem-solving skills
- bring out skills, talents, gifts, and creativity that may not have seen within traditional classroom projects
- builds confidence
- is just downright fun, Fun, FUN!!
Unhealthy Competition “focuses on winning and being the best. The pressure to win is more important than having fun or learning a new skill.” During a field day unhealthy competition led to arguments, name-calling, bullying and sad children. While there may be healthy intent, there can sometimes be unhealthy outcomes. For example:
|Healthy Intent||Unhealthy Outcome|
|More Motivated Students
Nothing gets students going like a game or contest. Sometimes, having kids compete against each other makes them try harder to succeed. If kids are trying and working harder, the extra effort is seen in improved grades and standardized test scores.
|Stressed -Out Kids
Simply put, some competition is good, but too much is bad. Too much competition can lead to stressed-out students. The negative impact of stress on children has been well-documented and is huge cause for concern among teachers and parents alike.
|More Confident Students and Teachers
A natural by-product of success is confidence. If competition leads to success, then this may very well boost the confidence of students and teachers alike.
Some people get so down on themselves they enter into a state of defeatist thinking that “nothing will change” or they give up entirely because there’s no point to winning.
|Collaboration and teamwork
Competing on teams can encourage inclusion, support and a desire to help one another
Us v. Them mentality which can lead to exclusion, belittling, unkind words and even bullying someone else’s performance or inability to win.
In the end, it is important to remember that competition is not all good, nor is it all bad. When the correct balance is struck, competition is a healthy part of life that helps us to succeed. But, the correct balance must be struck. It is not necessary, nor appropriate for students to feel like they must be the best at everything, and try to make sure that our students learn this essential lesson.