Competition VS Cooperation
Competition Vs. Cooperation
Competition is a good thing and should be taught in the classroom (or gym). This country grew to become one of the greatest nations in the world because of the competitive nature of business and sport alike. There are rules that need to be stressed and moral standards that must be agreed upon and adhered to in order to make sure that the atmosphere we live, work and play in are the most constructive possible. Cooperation has its place and is an integral part of any team sport or business plan. However, cooperation is a component of the overall goal of any student that we are attempting to train. That goal is to become the best person they can possibly be. I teach at an intermediate grade elementary, which is populated by 3rd thru 5th grade students. I have found in my experience that the students at this level need to be taught how to compete. The P.E. teacher in the primary grade “feeder” school almost exclusively focuses on teaching cooperative games to the students. When those students have moved up to the next school they do not know how to compete. Most often these new 3rd grade students are quite poor losers and poor winners. They have never been taught about sportsmanship or how to maintain composure in a competitive situation. I believe that although Alfie Kohn may be right in saying that cooperation gets more done and helps people have a better self-esteem, we live in a society where there is a lot of competition. Our federal and local public contract laws actually enforce this concept in the requirements for competitive bidding on any bonded project. We have seen many instances in which the ethics and morals are pushed aside in these situations and many businessmen and women are going to prison every year because their greed and competitive nature surpasses their desire to win a job or contract solely on the merits of their professional portfolio or ability to sell their product. Rather, these businesspeople, now in-mates, tried to use bribery and coercion to get the jobs they sought. I believe that the focus of our training in competition for young learners is to have the drive to win and focus on how to do that within the confines of the rules.
In sport or competitive game situations students need to learn how to not only cooperate with others on their team and opposing team to have the most productive environment possible but how to compete with others on both sides of the equation as well. I read a statement by Daniel Perkins that says competition should be taught at levels. For example Angela Reinhart, stated that before the age of five, children should be taught cooperative games only. Even after the age of five children still have a hard time dealing with and understanding competition. At the age of eight, teachers should begin to teach students about competition and how to compete. I have a lesson I teach on sportsmanship. I focus on how a person should act when they lose, but also how they should act if they win. This lesson has helped in the way the students have started treating each other in my P.E. classes every year. I have also made sure that sometimes we keep score in a game so that I can teach them how they should act on either side of the end result. I really try to stress that they should have fun and it shouldn’t matter if you win or lose. My goal as a P.E. teacher is to help my students find a sport or activity that they like to do, so that they can keep doing that activity in the future to stay fit and healthy. I believe that some children will like the competitive side of activities and will join different leagues and compete in the future. Many of those types of competitive activities allow that person to have a higher caloric burn than a person jogging on a treadmill for the same amount of time. Those same people are more likely to stay committed to their fitness because they have a goal or team that it helps them stay motivated to continue their participation. Those students that don’t join a competitive sport will learn the importance of lifelong fitness and continue to set personal fitness goals and compete against themselves when they strive to achieve those goals.
Competition is healthy and is important in the future lives of our students. After reading the article by Alfie Kohn I agree that cooperation is very important in life. I also agree that cooperation is good for self-esteem. I also feel that if taught the properly, competition is healthy. When taught and supported appropriately in how it is approached, with goal setting, and a focus on the appreciation and respect for the rules, competition can actually lead to better results in fitness and fun. A young athlete learns that they may not be the starting varsity athlete in their position their freshman year but with discipline, goal setting and training, they can work to achieve that status as they get older. If they don’t achieve that particular goal they can look back and focus on what strides they were able to make and what successes they have had to build on in their next venture.
I believe we should teach our students how to compete in a healthy way not only because they may be competing in sports in the future but our goal as educators is to prepare them for the eventuality of competing in the work place. I know that Alfie Kohn says that competition in the work place is not useful, but it is not likely coming to an end anytime soon. We should teach our students how to compete so that when they interview for a job they have always wanted they will have the skills and preparation to compete for that job and give it all they got to win that job. The focus on goal setting and understanding and appreciating the rules is what will allow that person to keep a job over the next person when economic times get tough. It is also what can set that person aside when an opportunity presents itself to advance in a company.
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