I recently saw a documentary entitled I Am, and was ecstatic to get some science behind my beliefs about competition.
When I work with girls in the classroom with my Strong Girls Strong World program, or with boys and girls on retreats and summer camps, I try to get them to experience the difference between being in a community where competition rules vs. an environment where cooperation reigns. It’s not that I think all competition is bad, it’s just that it is so overemphasized in our culture in my opinion. And it shows up in kids being too competitive, more disrespectful, and having a hard time being a good team player.
And kids ALWAYS feel better about themselves and their class or group when their focus is less on just being the best and more on how to make everyone successful.
Kids have a tough time today collaborating and supporting the leader. They talk over each other, have to be 1st and the best, and are too willing to step on whomever to get to the top. I don’t think that is healthy for kids or classrooms.
I Am, discusses the research of Charles Darwin, and I thought it was so interesting that in his books on man’s evolution, he mentions survival of the fittest 2 times and love 92 times. He believed through his research that man’s essential nature was cooperation, not competition. It served man and animals better to work together for survival, and he shows many different types of animals who do just that.
So the next time someone argues for making kids more competitive because it’s all about survival of the fittest and kids HAVE to learn to be competitive, tell them it’s in kids best interests to learn skills of collaboration, cooperation and community building.