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Academic Competition

In: Social Issues

Submitted By BookWorm404
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What does it mean to be the best? Does it mean to be better than the ‘number two’ person or does it mean to show better performance than oneself did before? There are variations in the answer which is followed up by the different choice people make to have progress. When students choose to compete with the people around them rather than compete with themselves, the word ‘Academic Competition’ crawls in. Competition in schools today is much different than it was years ago. Today, it has occupied such a vital part of a student’s life that people started to raise concerns regarding its effects. There are many arguments regarding the positive and negative aspects of fostering competition in our schools. Some think that it’s dismal, that it robs students’ self-esteem and it leads to high stress and depression. Then there are those who believe that it is not only beneficial to students, but vital to academic achievement because it often spurs students to pursue excellence.
Motivation is a key to enthusiasm and education. Academic competition is advantageous when it challenges students to work harder on their studies and helps them get excited about academic content. They might retain more as they prepare for science quiz, math competitions, spelling bees and standardized tests. Nothing can get students going like a game or contest. Sometimes, having students compete against each other makes them try harder to succeed. If students are trying and working harder, the extra effort is seen in improved grades and test scores.
Educators who teach in highly competitive schools may be better prepared for their lesson plans and teaching. They may spend more time researching new teaching strategies. Studies suggest that competition raises teacher quality and improves the overall quality of education.
In academic competitions, not everyone wins or achieves the highest position. When an academic competition is managed fairly, and winners and losers are treated with equal compassion and respect, both can feel satisfied about the experience as a whole. Those who didn't win can learn to be gracious losers without allowing the loss to damage their self-esteem or hinder their willingness to participate in future competitions. Small disappointments help students become more resilient. So competition enhances the ability to handle loss.
Winning competitions create a desire and ethos of success. No-one likes to receive repeated loss and a healthy competition can mean that pupils gain a taste for success and want more of it. In the long run, once students leave education, this thirst continues and gives them the edge to succeed in life and in their career, business and everything else they come across. A natural by-product of success is confidence. If competition leads to success, then this may very well boost the confidence of students and teachers alike.
At the same time, competition makes us improve. If we lose, we want to improve and if we win, we want to make sure we retain our title. Competition means that we’re constantly trying to improve and better ourselves which doesn’t happen in a stalemate situation.
On the other hand, the nature of competitions means that there are winners and losers and no-one likes to lose. The dilemma here is some people are only the best at being second best.
Academic competitions can be disadvantageous for students when they lead to fear, anxiety and disappointment. Students might worry that they won't measure up or will disappoint their teachers or parents. This can lead to stressed-out students. Academic competitions turn out to be very ugly when it becomes so important to win that our behavior embraces a “win-at-all-costs” philosophy. This obsession has lead to wide-spread cheating, inflated egos, and personal attacks. In such cases, competitions seem to bring the best in products but the worst in people!
Some students are more interested in other sectors such as sports and arts rather than academics. This means that they are entered into competitions in their classes with no chance of success. As a result these evenly talented students will never willingly engage in challenges because of a fear of failure which becomes instilled in them. If so, competition will not be a motivation, rather it will be very discouraging.
Extreme academic competition has meant loss of recess and free time for students to take a break from the rigors of the academic world. Some students feel so much pressure to succeed at academic competitions that they put everything else on hold. They might give up extracurricular activities, sports, musical interests, or community events to focus solely on academic challenges. Competition can be negative when it leads to unbalanced living or forces students to give up their other interests.
In schools, it’s difficult to organize a healthy competition where everyone receives some success and appreciation, even those who do not win. It’s difficult to engage everyone, and teachers will always struggle to ensure that every student is given the equal scope of success. Of course a very valid argument is that school is a place for academics. But academics should never be a pathway to envy and resentment.
However, competition can display only positivity when it’s about finding out how well we can do something under pressure. It’s about challenging ourselves to get better. It can be about working together with others to accomplish a goal. We compete to succeed; to be the best we can be. It is not only about winning. Actually, it’s about wanting to win, working to win and preparing to win. To counteract the negative aspects of competition, we must teach ourselves that being a real winner involves more than just the score. Being the true winner depends on how one treats other people along the way through competition. It depends on how hard they worked and how well they have adapted with the high level of perseverance. If so, competition will only be a slightly bitter yet an effective motivation.

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