Friday, October 16, 2009

Marginalize Competition?

There's a new daily skirmish in my household that I have resolved to extinguish.

Every time we are headed out to the car, my kids engage in a *race* - and it's my youngest, the Princess, who seems to be the agitator. She always wants to be the *leader* or *first*.

Who cares, right? Well, the two things that I get most riled up over are:

1) Playing with doors (house and car)
2) Everything about cars, streets, and parking lots.

Nowadays my kids turn every car trip into a foot race. Along with Dad getting miffed for safety reasons, in their jostling one might get pushed, another could trip and fall, and there are often tears and shouts punctuating this unauthorized competition. And let's not forget the taunts from the self-declared winners!

So, from whence did this new pastime spring?

Apparently, it's the only tangible lesson the Princess has brought home from her pre-school. Each day, one child is, in turn, designated by the teachers to be the *line leader* for their jaunts to the playground, etc. This approach is only fair, right?

But I submit there might be, if not a slight problem with this, at least a negative consequence - though one admittedly I don't know how to get around in a mass educational/baby-sitting environment.

My kids have been getting into and out of my car for years now - never before did anyone care who got to the car or who got in first? Is this competitive spirit a natural impulse? I mean, am I out of my tree to be blaming a pre-school for this annoying, little, behavioral problem that I have to deal with?

I don't know. I'm rethinking everything these days.

The homeschooling gurus almost unanimously decry the *grading*, *ranking*, *segregation*, and resultant *competition* of factory government schools.

The fact is, once you take a bunch of kids, unnaturally enclose them within four walls, throw an endless stream of standardized tests and regulated procedures at them, instantly, their differences become readily apparent to each other. Every title from who's the fastest reader to who's going to be first in line becomes an object of aspiration.

Now I've always been a fan of competition BUT, is that merely because I've grown up in a fiercely competitive environment (by some standards)? Am I merely conditioned to accept my *normal* for the ideal?

OR, am I okay with races, contests, and fights because I'm relatively good at more than a couple of things?

In other words, would my stance be different if I was the last kid picked in kickball throughout elementary school? Or if I was a slow reader in class? OR, if I grew up without ever playing and watching competitive sports? OR, if I had never taken standardized tests of any kind as one with a pure homeschooling pedigree might have?

As regular readers might have caught onto....I've grown pretty cynical of much of my once firmly-held beliefs. I wonder about things like - What was it that drew me to compete and thrive in all those HS math competitions....Did I actually enjoy the subject? Or, was it all about my ego? And - what were the negative side-effects, if any?

So this afternoon I did a simple google of the evils of competition and came upon this on the FIRST search result:

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem the other better than himself. Look not every man to his own things, but every man also to the things of others." (Phi 2:3-4)

Hmmmm. It seems the Bible has long ago weighed in on my musing....

That was atop an interesting post titled - Is Competition Godly?

Read it, or you'll be demerited in my gradebook!


Anonymous said...

Like any serious Calvinist, this guy has faulty, compartmentalized reasoning. What he says has a lot of good on the surface, but he fails to see the "both/and" of reality. Dualism permeates the typical Calvinist philosophy. They tend to make the case that it is either this or that, faith or works, all God's will or all man's , competition is either good or evil.

Then they make their case by quoting Bible verses that support their position (and comveniently ignore those that appear to contrast). They do this with nearly every Theological issue. Sometimes they get things exactly right. Other times they are WAY off.

In this guys mind he just can't see some competition as good and some as evil. Paul said "run the race for the prize" and "whatever you do do as unto the LORD","fight the good fight". Perhap there is a holy competition that pleases God.

It is clear that we are more selfish in today's examples of competition than humble and serving. I would caution one to not throw out competition as intrinsically evil.

CaptiousNut said...

I didn't realize the Calvinist angle but do recall seeing a mention of *the elect*.

Yes, indeed.

An anti-competitive creed is fine so long as it doesn't give cover to those who'd restrict liberty.