Does Competition in Education Enhance the Learning Environment? [Teen Article]

Becca is a 16-year old from Chicago, IL. She loves screaming her lungs out on roller coasters, traveling, and volunteering in her spare time. Does Competition enhance Learning environment

Competition has been a reality of life since the beginning of time. As a matter of fact, it sums up our history simply. From Britain, France, and Spain battling it out for the greatest economic influence, to the great powers competing to colonize underdeveloped countries, competition has led us to where we are now.   Today, competition has become a fact of everyday life. We constantly find ourselves competing to get the better parking space, the most compliments, the better job, or the newest car. But one place where competition is most prominent today is in our schools and colleges. Just as competition in history has enhanced our world, competition in education continues to enhance our learning environment.

When there is competition in education, students become more motivated to do their school work.  Not every student would study hard for a test or work for weeks on a project simply because they love to learn. Most students are motivated by competition because they see that there could be a tangible reward for their hard work. What makes this reward, whether it is getting into a selective college or landing an internship, desirable is that other students are vying for the same reward.

Without competition, the reward of going to a good college or getting a good grade would be worthless to many students. This is because without competition, students would soon realize that everyone would receive similar rewards regardless of the quality of their work so they would have no reason to be more diligent than others. Some may say that this motivation can cause too much stress so students could resort to cheating, or plagiarism simply to do better than their peers to get the desired reward. Still, even if competition wasn’t an issue, cheating would still be prominent in our classrooms. Many students would only be willing to do the school work that they find interesting to them instead of all the assigned work, because there is no real motivation to learn something they don’t find appealing. Therefore, they might end up cheating in those classes that they take no interest in instead of better themselves in that area.

Competition in education gives students the motivation to improve themselves as students. When a basketball player plays against a better player on the basketball court, the less knowledgeable player learns a lot during the game about their own strengths and weaknesses. Also, they can learn what to do to improve themselves by competing with a better player. In the same manner, when students are motivated by competition, they can see their own faults and the areas they need to improve to better themselves.  Of course, this process is personal and emotional for every student.

Education without competition would be an emotionless process. After winning a sports game, the players feel a sense of victory. In the same way, if a student receives a good grade in a competitive class, they feel accomplished and overall, they feel better about themselves. If there was no competition, students would simply be content with their grades or their work instead of taking pride in it. Feelings of triumph and discouragement are what enhance our learning environment instead of the same old feelings of content among students. Allowing students to feel discouraged and stressed, but also triumphant and successful will prepare them for the real world, where they might experience these emotions on a daily basis. People may point out that these emotions could be overwhelming and stressful for students, especially for those who are met with constant discouragement. This is true but, with every goal comes a struggle.

With competition in education, students are encouraged to be more imaginative to stand out from their fellow students. If students aren’t in a competitive environment, they might be content to have similar ideas. On the other hand, competitive environments lead students to dig deeper, and to use their creativity in each student’s own unique way. They have to utilize their specific strengths and intelligences (musical, linguistic, kinesthetic etc…) in order to find ideas that stand out and make themselves a more dynamic individual. This individuality can go a long way.

In order to get ahead in any area, or beat out the competition, students may find creative ways to learn that suits their personal intelligence, leading them to learn more about a subject. For example, student may go on field trips to experience Spanish culture for themselves in order to comprehend the language better. They may pick up dance classes in order to improve themselves in the theatre department, or they may read more novels in order to write better. Some may say that competition actually suppresses creativity by stressing better grades instead of the actual learning process; this is true mostly in younger ages, especially in primary or elementary levels. This is the time when competition can be more harmful than helpful because younger students are still developing their basic skills. But, in high schools and colleges, the stress on grades helps students find their creative side to stand out from their peers.

Competition may not always be as prominent in our schools in the future as it is today.  Without competition in our schools ands colleges, students get a false idea of what the world is really like. Instead, by implementing competitive environments in education, we give students one common goal: to be the very best they can be by pushing themselves to their limits.

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