Competition may be one of the most contentious and misunderstood topics in education.
Should our students compete? What about collaboration? Doesn’t competition create winners and losers?.
Collaboration or Competition
One of the most common misconception regarding educational competitions is the “Competition vs. Collaboration” paradigm. Competition is NOT the antonym to collaboration.
In fact, some of the best learning exercises can be both collaborative and competitive. Take a competition in groups of 5 students to build the best paper aeroplane. Within their teams, the competition stimulates collaboration & team work.
Just to further push this a bit further competing with ones own scores and achievements is a great example of a Growth Mindset as defined by Carol Dweck.
Some argue that competition leads to conflict, and conflict leads disunity. Well performing students should be commended BUT, weaker students should be assisted, and NOT pressurised. If weak students come under to much pressure they will feel discouraged and will not perform at their level best.
We believe this is only the case where results are progress are made public. Where students battle away improving their performance in private, there is no external pressure.
It’s a driving force
Some people get all the motivation they need from other sources and that’s fantastic.
But when you have a rival, someone doing the same thing as you, at a similar level, it can motivate you to improve and out do them. In a healthy rivalry, they will try to outdo what you’ve just done to outdo them, this process forces people to not just do what is required of them, but to do the best they can do.
It’s not incentivisation
This is another contentious one. Competition doesn’t mean there are tangible rewards. It doesn’t mean that the intrinsic motivation of students is decreased because we highlight the value of the task as only being valuable because of an external incentive.
Simply incentivising a task that requires only a little mental effort with a monetary reward is not a good motivator. However, we know that creating a challenging, purposeful process behind the task is a good motivator!
Persistence, resiliency, and grit are all components of Mental Toughness. These valuable real-world skills come in handy across every area of our lives.
We must know how to bend and not break under pressure. We must learn how to handle stressful, competitive situations. Students faced with tough challenges can learn how to pick themselves up when they fail. They can learn that failing to achieve the best marks is not the end of the journey, but just a stepping stone.
We believe in competition as a driver of learning.
We believe all classrooms are different and teachers need to know when to push and when not to push students.
We believe the competition modes in Emile: student versus themselves, student vs student and class vs class give teachers the tools to harness competition for their classrooms!