No Contest: The Case Against Competition
to date.81 In March 1992, the newsletter of a major American education organization declared that “unlike some other innovations in education, cooperative learning has not been a flash in the pan. After years of attention, it remains a hot topic among educators.”82 Various mainstream organizations have come to recognize CL’s potential for enhancing the quality of learning.* The American Association for the Advancement of Science released a report in 1989 declaring that “the collaborative nature
Cooperative Learning: Theory and Research, edited by Shlomo Sharan. New York: Praeger, 1990. ——. “Cooperative Learning and Helping Behaviour in the Multi-ethnic Classroom.” In Children Helping Children, edited by Hugh C. Foot, Michelle J. Morgan, and Rosalyn H. Shute. Chichester, England: John Wiley and Sons, 1990. ——. “Cooperative Learning: New Horizons, Old Threats.” The International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education Newsletter, December 1987/January 1988: 3–6. ——.
result is that the public gets less information over the long run than they would have access to if the various news organizations worked together. Moreover, news stories are more likely to be inaccurate and even irresponsible as a result of competition. When a jet was hijacked by Shiite Moslems in 1985, one observer blamed the “distorted and excessive coverage of terrorist incidents” on “the highly competitive nature of network television.”45 A second critic independently came to the same
throughout our culture has been observed for many years. “While paying respectful homage to cooperative ideals,” wrote May and Doob in the 1930s, “we go right on with our competitive system.”48 In the 1950s, John R. Seeley’s classic study of suburban life turned up the same phenomenon. In order to succeed, he said, the child “must compete but he must not seem competitive. The school deals with the dilemma by overtly ‘promoting’ cooperation . . . and by covertly ‘tolerating’ competition.”49 In the
justify competition. COMPETITION AND ANXIETY Its effect on self-esteem, as serious as it is, does not exhaust the psychological consequences of competition. This section will consider the matter of insecurity and anxiety; the following section will touch on still other effects. Many are closely related to self-esteem, but they merit individual attention nonetheless. A number of psychologists have proposed that optimal human functioning presupposes a sense of security about the world—a