By Shraddha Jilla
I remember an incident in my session, where this girl was on cloud nine because she stood first in her class in the semester exams. Other kids felt ashamed when she ridiculed them for not doing well in their exams. One of the most obvious negative consequences of the competitive drive is the creation of a “loser”.
Famed philosopher and writer J Krishnamurti once said, “Real learning comes when the competitive spirit has ceased.” Since time immemorial, humans have been competing with each other. Looking back at my High School days, I recall several instances where everyone was just focused on winning a title or competition, rather than actually learning something new.
Somewhere I feel it’s because of the way certain institutions function. Children constantly experience pressure and are forced to participate in a rat race, sometimes against their will. Students aren’t consumers, in fact, they are active creators of knowledge.
Here comes a point where we need to rethink the role of facilitator in a classroom. Why always see oneself as the master of any subject? Why think of oneself as king/queen of the classroom, a striking figure in class deciding what is best for the kids? Why not just let the kids realise their own potential and work at their own pace? I remember as a child, the way incentive-driven competition would create barriers between peers and the feeling of superiority it would bring along with it.
There are times when there is a lack of encouragement in kids – only those who are good at either academics or sports are encouraged to build on their skills. What about the kids who are good in other fields? What if a child is just too shy or fearful to show his talent? Competition can kill creativity in a child.
This in no way means that competition always has negative effects. How about a healthy competition where every child is encouraged to explore their own area of interest? In order for this to happen, it’s important to know that each child is unique and has some unique needs. It is important to know their cultural background, learning styles, interests, social settings and abilities. And it is a facilitator’s duty to take all of this into account while engaging with children.
Everyone has a story and their own baggage and icebergs. So how fair would it be to judge the kids on their performance just on certain prescribed tasks? Why not just free ourselves from the comparison and competition trap.
About the author: Shraddha completed her Master’s in Philosophy from the University of Mumbai, and is a qualified handicrafts and work experience teacher. She joined Apni Shala as a Fellow in 2016.