I concur with the statement that an academically competitive atmosphere is helpful for a student because I believe the best way to improve oneself is to compete with others that are just as good or even better.
I was born and raised in Munich, Germany where I enjoyed an excellent classical education. The German school system is quite different from the American one because in Germany schools emphasize more on the academics and literacy and also encourage students to acquire more general knowledge across many disciplines rather than specializing in a few.
After four years of elementary school students depending on their academic performance, proceed to High School where students are introduced to critical thinking in the fifth grade, making the German gymnasiums harder in my opinion than the American high school system. Those pupils in Germany who don’t qualify for gymnasiums have the choice of enrolling in technical schools and other institutions below the gymnasium system. Therefore in gymnasium you have only the best students competing against each other, while students that perform badly or simply have learning disabilities enroll in lower level schools, with emphasis on their learning pace.
I attended one of the most academically rigorous gymnasiums in Germany and unlike here in America I didn’t have the privilege of choosing my courses. Instead I had to accept the school’s curriculum, which included Latin, Ancient Greek, Algebra, Geometry, Physics, Biology and other subjects that all add up to about twelve different courses in one single semester. As a result students are under pressure to perform better and less than half of us were expected to graduate. Most kids, including myself have repeated an entire year. You can only repeat once, but if you have to repeat the same year again or any other year you were automatically expelled and prohibited from attending any other gymnasium in the country. But you still have the choice of enrolling in a technical school.
In 2004 I relocated from Munich, Germany to Greenwich, CT where I attended Greenwich High School. For the first time in my life school didn’t seem overwhelming and I was able to have fun and study at the same time. I was surprised that I could keep up with my fellow American students without any struggle and was one of the best in all my classes. But I quickly realized that the academically competitive atmosphere of the German school system was the reason for my easy success in America.
In conclusion I agree that an academically competitive environment is good for a student because I think it encourages you to become the best that you can be. And you are more likely to learn from others who are better than you and more experienced. And the more positive influences you get the better it is for you to perform better.