Competing to Fail

We live in what very well may be one of the most despicable, selfish, and competitive societies in all of history. Man has the strongest desire to push aside it’s coexisting citizen and emerge on top, calling himself “the best.” This callous selfishness does not just stem from an individual; it is fertilized, then nurtured and cared for in an environment we call the classroom. It starts in Preschool, when a child is given gold stars and ribbons for doing the best coloring. This is a horrible practice.

Already teachers are implementing a competitive drive within students, a need to be better than the others. The children denied ribbons and stars look at the colorful picture they just drew, a ripe piece of creativity brimming with the originality of a newly developed mind, and feels deep shame, as if he or she is inadequate. The children then feel the desire to be the best rise up within them and conform their coloring styles to that of the alpha child, the way “society” wants them to color. With this a creative art within the youth is lost, destroyed by a system that demands conformity and an “accepted level of intelligence.” For years and years the competitive spirit rises within students, replacing ribbons and stars with grades and awards.

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Society has done a marvelous job of making itself miserable, because the further this spirit progresses, the more stressful life gets. The tension that runs between the kids competing for the number one spot is intense. Jane Talbot discusses situations in her essay “Best in Class” where kids actually hire lawyers and go to court in order to claim the title of valedictorian over another student. This society has done quite a nice job defining a “best” by becoming entirely close minded. How can a teacher call one essay better than another? Is an essay not just a written expression of opinions? Is this society trying to claim that one opinion is more valuable than the other? Again I say conformity. Our very fashion of thinking is morphed to fit that of the grade standards.

People are not all of one thinking type. This is the major flaw within the educational system, they force every student to take the same curriculum, and force them all to strive to be the best. Let me just say this, no matter how many “A’s” you get, no matter how many scholarships you earn, no matter how many teachers loved you in class, you have only achieved what you have because the high ups in society have claimed that your way is the best way. There are hundreds more with a totally different style of thinking, and creativity that can equal or surpass you, but their way is not what people want right now. Education must be more embracive; it must eliminate this mindless sense of competition and better nurture every style of thought.

Only then can society be where it needs to be.