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The book reviewed at the link below became my bible as i wondered and worried about competitiveness and inequality in our society.  Alfie Kohn's 1986 book does not address inequality but the implications for me were clear.  If one of the outcomes of competition is the division of life into winners and losers, and the process of creating this outcome has so many dangers and so few benefits, doesn't that suggest that inequality itself is a process and state with many dangers and few benefits?

"Kohn quotes the late anthropologist Jules Henry who tells a story of an episode repeated daily in classrooms throughout the world. Boris is unable to solve an arithmetic problem. The teacher asks him to think harder while the rest of the class responds with a forest of waving hands and much sighing. Finally Peggy is called upon and proudly delivers the correct solution. 'Thus Boris' failure has made it possible for Peggy to succeed; his depression is the price of her exhilaration; his misery the occasion of her rejoicing ... To a Zuni, Hopi, or Dakota Indian, Peggy's performance would seem cruel beyond belief.'"  --from the review below.

No contest: the case against competition, by Alfie Kohn (book review ), Share International Archives


Apr. 18th, 2012 02:16 am (UTC)
Yes, the evidence does keep coming in.

Educators need to ask themselves what they are educating children for, especially since there is an unstated goal which is built into the system. That unstated goal is to fit future workers and consumers in to the roles they are expected to play in adult life. Obedience and punctuality for the children of the poor; creativity for the children of the rich, If it wasn't for this unstated goal, i doubt that such things as spelling bees and grades and not cheating would play such a big part in what goes on in classrooms,



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