Is competition beneficial to students?

Graphic by Dana Dauletgalikyzy

Yes, competition helps students succeed

By: Kelci Grooms

Many people have argued whether or not competition in schools helps or harms students. Some argue that competition is harmful because it causes students to become more stressed or be less engaged in the material. However, competition is good for schools because it gives students motivation to put in their best effort.

Competition keeps students from becoming complacent. Schools generally create competition in the form of class rankings. This allows students to compare their abilities to the abilities of their classmates. From there they can decide how much effort to put in to maintain the ranking they want. The more competition there is, the higher the output from students will be, both in individual and class averages.

Martin Covington, a professor at UC Berkeley found that there are four types of students. Success-Oriented Students who learn for the sake of learning and see failure as a way to improve, Overstrivers who put in an extreme amount of effort only because they have an intense fear of failure, Failure-Avoiding students who only believe they have failed if they try and do not succeed, and Failure-Accepting students who have given up on trying to succeed. The best way to turn failure-accepting students into Success-oriented students is to emphasize effort over ability. Schools may do this by providing feedback that recognizes and praises effort.

Competition is beneficial to a person as long as they are engaging in healthy competition. A person who is engaging in healthy competition will want to learn new skills and better themselves, have higher self-esteem as a result, and be able to win or lose gracefully. A person involved in unhealthy competition may resist participating, and show signs of depression, anxiety, difficulty sleeping or loss of appetite. The way to encourage healthy competition is to show students

Competition is not only important in school but in life. It teaches students how to work hard and develop self-esteem and self-efficacy. Competition helps students to learn that it is not always the most gifted or naturally intelligent students that succeed but rather those who persevere and put the work in.

No, competition is harmful to students

By: Lucy Lannigan

Competition has become the foundation of student success in today’s world. The pressure to have an insanely high grade point average (GPA), high standardized test scores, and an overwhelming amount of extracurriculars is great and leads many students to believe that they will not have success without these factors. It’s predominate in schools across the nation, as students pile advanced courses and numerous clubs onto their plate so that they may stand out amongst many other intelligent students. While this competitiveness among peers creates a strong drive for success, competition should not be the relied upon way for students to achieve great things. It has gotten to the point that students no longer strive to be “the best” but rather “better than”.

Competition can lead to stress and anxiety. School is stressful and with the added pressure to compete against other students it can become unbearable. Rather than setting personal goals that lead to success, students set goals to beat their peers’ test scores or grades so that they are “better than”. If they are unable to live up to other students, disappointment and an overall feeling of failure can become a burden on their self image and confidence as a student.

Competition can create negative feelings toward peers. When students feel like they aren’t performing at the same high-levels as their classmates, feelings of frustration and jealousy begin to cloud their peer interactions. They may begin to resent their peers which prohibits camaraderie that is much needed in the classroom. In school, and in their future workplace, they will need to work and form relationships with others. This is impossible if students view their classmates as competition and a threat to their own success.

While a little friendly competition can be a good thing, as competition is a natural part of life and important for some careers, too much can be unfriendly. Competition should not be the sole motivator for success, especially in school. Motivation to succeed can stem from all sorts of things that don’t involve intense competition. Students should be encouraged to focus on themselves and achieving their own self-made goals.

Overall heavy competition is not something to be desired in the classroom. It causes students to focus on the accomplishments of their peers rather than their own. The constant comparing to others leads to a negative self image and it is an unhealthy way to motivate oneself to succeed.

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