I resolutely agree with the theory that an academically competitive atmosphere is helpful to students. Furthermore, I believe that competition is essential to every learning environment – from elementary to post-secondary. It is important for students of all ages to learn that they cannot be great at everything, but that they must strive to be great at something. The only way to establish greatness is by comparing and competing. Competition is the foundation of mankind. It molds our world and everything in it. Without competition, there is no incentive. Without incentive, advancements cannot be made.
The success of a competitive environment is very evident in an elementary school. When I think back to my early school days, I remember the incentives that caused me to work hard. For example, in my school, students who read and comprehended the most books were rewarded with various prizes. Candy, movies and certificates were the material compensations for our hard work, but even more valuable was the feeling of self-worth and accomplishment that accompanied the achievement of being one of the best.
From competition students learn valuable lessons, like good sportsmanship. “Every man in the world is better than someone else and not as good as someone else,” says author William Saroyan. A competitive learning environment will teach students to accept their shortcomings and be proud of their talents.
Competition makes one want to achieve. “Of all human powers operating on the affairs of mankind, none is greater than that of competition,” explained Henry Clay. It is the nature of human beings that makes them crave success, and desire to go farther than anyone else. Competition works in business and government. Why wouldn’t it work in education?
Not all students are able to perform at the same level in academics. This is no reason to eliminate competition. Those who cannot achieve academic greatness will find another competitive area to succeed. In order to encourage those who are academically-talented, competition is imperative. “Live daringly, boldly, fearlessly. Taste the relish to be found in competition – in having put forth the best within you.” (Henry J. Kaiser)