Your Bi-Weekly Rant: The perils of competition


Allison Neal, Co-editor

Competition has its place: on a football field, during a debate and occasionally in the classroom. Friendly competition can encourage students to do their best and work towards a goal, but it can also discourage and create an environment in which grades reflect the ability to play a game rather than learn the material.

I’ve been made aware of some classes at South in which competitive quiz games are the dominant activity and participation points aren’t awarded to everyone playing, but just the winners.

This kind of class takes competition too far. The game is supposed to aid in learning, making the material more fun and encouraging greater interest in learning things like vocabulary words quickly and accurately. It isn’t supposed to pit students against each other and only award those who do best.

If a student feels they can never win the game their motivation to actually learn goes out the window. If grades only reflect how well you can play a game, they are not serving their purpose.

There is plenty of competition in high school today. Students compete for spots in top colleges and for scholarships and awards. AP tests encourage students to outscore their peers and take the most challenging courses they can. School has become less about learning and more about being the best.

I like school, but I like it because I like to learn. I don’t care about being the best in my class. I want to do well, but I want to do well because I’m learning and enjoying myself, not because I’m in a stress spiral trying to beat out the “competition.” I know I won’t do as well in subjects that I don’t like and I’m okay with that.
So play your games but don’t forget the point. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if you win, lose, or even play the game, it’s what you learn before the bell rings.