Monday, May 30, 2005

Cooperation vs. Competition - Another Brick "Out of the Wall"updated 5/30/05 - qualityg kudos to Olivia


After class yesterday I (student) had a discussion with some educators who teach college and some educators who teach at Day Cares and Child Learning Centers. The topic was Cooperation or Competition in school.

As I have stated before when I was teaching in a college setting I was and I'm still not in favor of grades. Last week a person in my class last semester asked if I got an "A?" In all honesty I had not gone on-line to look, I suppose I will get a paper copy in the mail.

Students (Pre-School – Grade 16) worry more about grades than they do learning or being creative or innovative and that is a tragedy not only of our education system but also to those who think education is a game. Grades destroy Joy of Learning. I wonder if there is a rise in verbal or physical abuse at home when it’s report card time. I remember our pastor would sit in front of the class and read each name, if a boy student got a “D” or lower he would toss the card on the floor, as you bent to pick it up he whacked you with his cane. I don’t remember anything being done to the girls (I guess they all got good grades). The whack was motivating, the boys spent many hours making cheat sheets and getting sick on report card day.

I guess by now you can tell what side of the fence I was on, in fact I was all by myself. The first statements were “Competition will prepare the kids for the real world, it’s tough out their just look how many are unemployed.” And, “how will we know who is the best, the smartest, the ones who get the scholarships?” My favorite “If you don’t have competition, everyone will be able to go to Harvard and Yale and of course the University of Michigan.”

qualityg’s response “Who Cares.” Starting to set up barbed wire they said “We all care about education, how can you say that?” qg says… - I did not say I don’t care about education, I said who cares about being the best when it comes to education.

I know I’m in the minority when it comes to this topic, but I don’t see Education as a game, I don’t see it having winners or losers, because each time a student fails we all fail and the effects are enormous on the economy, workplace, family, crime, etc… etc….

Education is a basic need like food and water for our existence. Why do we want to destroy so many children starting in Pre-School with labels, negative reinforcement, put in groups by how smart you are, being the last one picked in gym class and then being put in right field, being afraid after 4th grade to admit you like music or art. Formal school years label us by grades (anyone think it might be the teacher).

Cement is now being poured to reinforce the barbed wire (now a wall), “What about the sport teams, I suppose we all hold hands and play nice (kumbya), and some kids just can’t do the stuff in gym class.”

Getting a chair (I’m short) and pulling myself up, I ask ‘Why are sports considered education, they are games, I have no problem with competition when it comes to winning games (unless coaches and parent are living through the kids and trying to be something they could not).”

Starting to lose my grip I grope and say, “I thought gym class was to promote fitness and well being, why do so many high schools have it as an elective, and is there any chance or correlation that this may be a factor with the obesity crisis in the United States.”

All of a sudden I started to see some cracks in the wall. Hey qualityg, “I remember being picked last in gym class, I never wanted to go again and I skipped every chance I got.” Hey qualityg, “I remember being so upset when we graded each other’s paper, even though I was a good student I was terrified.” And, “ I liked gym class when we could run and play and make up games and have fun until the teacher turned everything into a competition.” Hey, I was put in the 3rd group because I couldn not read very well, but what was wrong with that, it’s where most of my friends were.

Folks, education is an essential for every child, should we have a competition where the one that can pound his/her chest the hardest to stop their heart is the winner? Ridiculous, I agree, but are we not doing the same thing to our children’s education when we take the heart and soul out of them with competition being first before cooperation and learning.

The wall did not come down, but from now on you will hear me say, “ Educators, Administrators, Politicians and PARENTS, tear down that wall!” Hey it worked for President Reagan.

Pink Floyd:

We don't need no education

We don't need no thought control

No dark sarcasm in the classroom

Teachers leave them kids alone

Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!

All in all it's just another brick in the wall.

All in all you're just another brick in the wall.

updated 05/21/05


An essay wins a lesson on a legend


The following are some excerpts from an essay contest won by a third grader in Detroit. "The contest is sponsored by the MLB, MLB Players Trust, and Scholastic, Inc. Sharon Robinson, daughter of the late great Jackie Robinson presented the award.

Robinson, spoke about nine values her father used to be successful: courage, determination, teamwork, persistence, integrity, citizenship, justice, commitment and excellence.

Breaking Barriers - What Kenadi Said

Excerpts from Kenadi Jefferson's winning essay in the 2005 "Breaking Barriers" competition, "My Math Barrier."

  • "When I started the 3rd grade, my biggest fear was learning my multiplication ... I tried all summer before school trying to learn them. My dad would go over them with me everyday. I would start to remember them and the next day I would forget them."
  • "My mom and dad were very patient with me ... They always remind me that it takes time to learn anything and for some it takes longer, but do not give up."
  • "I started to say them and Granny stopped me at the very first one. She said you have to sing them...I came up with a little hum and I started to say my 6's. Before I knew it, I had sung them all correctly..."

qualityg says... Jackie Robinson was a great competitor in sports, but I would also say based on his nine values that Cooperation and Commitment were a pre-requisite to competition, and more important, values for a successful life.

Naysayers, hey qualityg this was a contest - winners and losers?

qualityg says... show me the losers --> quote "Sixty-two giddy and ecstatic third-graders gathered Friday at the school to learn about Robinson and celebrate Kenadi's winning entry in a national essay competition about breaking life barriers. Their special guest was Sharon Robinson, Jackie Robinson's daughter."

qualityg kudos to Kenadi and her family!

updated 5/31/05

I saw this in Monday's Paper (5/30/05)

Students merit recognition
I am writing regarding the Brightest and Best of 2005. All of these top students truly deserve all of the recognition they are getting for their achievements. I am a junior in high school and feel that if I am at least half as successful as them I will be happy. Kudos for all of your work, and good luck on the rest of your lives. Your parents should be proud of you. They have a right to be.
Olivia Girard
Macomb Township

qualityg says... Olivia, you have shown in one paragraph that you are already one of the best and the brightest, grades are just one "small" part of the equation, you have mastered a much greater part.

qualityg kudos to Olivia!!


Quality Weenie said...

Going to a "big named" school I don't think has that much advantage anymore, or at least once your established in your profession.

For example, new guy at work is boasting about getting his Engineering degree at University of Michigan.

Well guess what, we are doing the same exact job and I paid half as much for my education and went to the "lessor big named" University -Eastern Michigan.

Guess that big named school education isn't really doing as much for him as he thinks or my smaller named school is just as good in the long run.

qualityg says said...


I have always felt the Joy of Learning comes from the Instructor. I just had one of the best (SBR) at a small private college.