The Case Against Competition

After reading so much about cultures that have worked best as far as ,low conflict,and social unity. they all keep a tight rein on            Boasting and competition. I named this page after below site, as I agree with it .

                                                                   The Case Against Competition-alfiekohn.org

excerpt from The Case Against Competition ;     


When it comes to competition, we Americans typically recognize only two legitimate positions: enthusiastic support and qualified support.

The first view holds that the more we immerse our children (and ourselves) in rivalry, the better. Competition builds character and produces excellence. The second stance admits that our society has gotten carried away with the need to be Number One, that we push our kids too hard and too fast to become winners — but insists that competition can be healthy and fun if we keep it in perspective.

I used to be in the second camp. But after investigating the topic for several years, looking at research from psychology, sociology, biology, education, and other fields, I’m now convinced that neither position is correct. Competition is bad news all right, but it’s not just that we overdo it or misapply it. The trouble lies with competition itself. The best amount of competition for our children is none at all, and the very phrase “healthy competition” is actually a contradiction in terms.

That may sound extreme if not downright un-American. But some things aren’t just bad because they’re done to excess; some things are inherently destructive. Competition, which simply means that one person can succeed only if others fail, is one of those things. It’s always unnecessary and inappropriate at school, at play, and at home.

Think for a moment about the goals you have for your children. Chances are you want them to develop healthy self-esteem, to accept themselves as basically good people. You want them to become successful, to achieve the excellence of which they’re capable. You want them to have loving and supportive relationships. And you want them to enjoy themselves.

These are fine goals. But competition not only isn’t necessary for reaching them — it actually undermines them.

There is good evidence that productivity in the workplace suffers as a result of competition. The research is even more compelling in classroom settings. David Johnson, a professor of social psychology at the University of Minnesota, and his colleagues reviewed all the studies they could find on the subject from 1924 to 1980. Sixty-five of the studies found that children learn better when they work cooperatively as opposed to competitively, eight found the reverse, and 36 found no significant difference. The more complex the learning task, the worse children in a competitive environment fared.

Brandeis University psychologist Teresa Amabile was more interested in creativity. In a study, she asked children to make “silly collages.” Some competed for prizes and some didn’t. Seven artists then independently rated the kids’ work. It turned out that those who were trying to win produced collages that were much less creative — less spontaneous, complex and varied — than the others.

One after another, researchers across the country have concluded that children do not learn better when education is transformed into a competitive struggle. Why? First, competition often makes kids anxious and that interferes with concentration. Second, competition doesn’t permit them to share their talents and resources as cooperation does, so they can’t learn from one another. Finally, trying to be Number One distracts them from what they’re supposed to be learning. It may seem paradoxical, but when a student concentrates on the reward (an A or a gold star or a trophy), she becomes less interested in what she’s doing. The result: Performance declines.

excerpt from ; The Competition Paradox

What Would the Bushman Do?

Some of you may have seen my talk about the bushman of Botswana, a hunter gather culture that gives us a glimpse into how we are adapted to live. Jon Young has been traveling to Botswana for the last couple of years to learn from this culture. I decided to ask Jon about competition and children and how the Bushmen compete in their communities. We taped the interview for you to hear in its entirety.

I don’t want to spoil the interview too much because really I could write 5- 6 articles on everything that Jon talks about, and I want you to get all of it straight from him. He covers subjects from positive coaching to using competition to move children out of what he calls a “natural laziness”. He even, at the end, talks about what a Bushman does when he or she is considered the best in the community at something. Here’s a hint: They do the opposite of what most sports champions do.

Turns out that adult Bushman compete fiercely in games that they do not let their pre-teen children play. They literally make the children stay on the sidelines and watch them until they are done, then the children get to try it. Everyone plays these games. Some are designed for men and some for women and some for everyone.  Jon’s interpretation is that they are designed to develop skills of awareness that are used in tracking and other critical subsistence skills. Then, tellingly, Jon talks about how the same men hunt together. There was no sense of competition when they tracked an animal. Competition stayed in the games and did not spill over into the rest of the community’s life.

In short I think anything that nutures the "Ego", should be carefully watched.