Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2008 01:19 pm
The structural integrity of the capitalist world is showing its weakness. In order to move on towards a new age, to save ourselves from this Age of Kali, I believe the first step is to completely re-tool our education system.

From day one (in Western civilization), our brains are wired to be competitive. One might say such a disposition towards competition is instinctual; my counterargument is based on empirical observation and existential, rather than analytical, evaluation.

As a child, one tends to experience the world in black and white-everything must either be this or it must be that. There is yet no word combining this and that. As one grows older, the infinite shades of grey begin painting his view of the world and of reality itself. But he is still left with the this or that impulse. He is still left attempting to categorize at the exclusion of other categories. This is always competing with that. This competitive impulse seems not only unnecessary; but also contrary to the natural state of reality, which never simply appears as this or that. It seems to always be some combination thereof.

The perpetuation of a competitive, non-primal society is absurd. If we truly have "moved beyond" primordial states into a more "sophisticated" social model, we cannot expect to continue operating these 1st world, "sophisticated" societies on primal ideals. In such a state where everyday life is no longer a battle for survival, competition becomes merely an attempt by humans to place their collective experiences inside a tidy compartment of win/lose. Good/bad.

Because so much value is currently placed on what not everyone can have (physical resources), rather than what everyone can have (cognitive resources), competition is necessary. Capitalism is founded on this obsolete black/white worldview. You have money (win) or you don't (lose). You have material value (good) or you don't (bad). Why is this dichotomy forced into the brains of our youth? Why are our schools perpetuating a vicious atmosphere of competing for grades that measure only the most superficial aspects of understanding? Why do we compartmentalize rather than accept the grey? I believe it's because the competitive impulse for exclusivity is too far ingrained into our education.

A collaborative atmosphere in schools would facilitate learning and the desire for knowledge far more than a competitive one. Competition necessarily places larger emphasis on the ends, and thereby the means used to get there become secondary. Students cheat to get the grades. Isn't it absurd that the whole point behind education has become so shrouded by this competitive impulse, that a student will literally forfeit any knowledge or wisdom he can gain for himself simply to fulfill the competition? The competition aspect in school so far outweighs the genuine search for knowledge that one can excel in education while truly learning very little (by mastering "test-taking techniques," cheating, etc.)!

How could a collaborative atmosphere be reasonably reached in schools? Well, my current idea only applies to English-speaking countries, unfortunately. The use of E-Prime in schools could help achieve this. The absence of the verb "to be" in the education of a new generation could radically reshape their thought processes. Think of the implications of a language that never makes statements to the exclusion of anything else-a language that must by necessity always consider the contextual aspects of any given situation? Nothing in E-Prime ever is this or that. It always appears as this or that in a given situation, with given contextual clues. The nullification of absolutisms from language would foster in the mind of youth a new understanding lacking in that dichotomous line between win/lose, good/bad.
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Holiday20310401
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2008 03:14 pm
@rhinogrey,
I agree but I have a problem with how to go about creating a collaborative atmosphere. It seems to me that students (for highschool anyways) have control over their social setting and atmosphere.

Also, there is something immoral about competition, IYO, and in mine. But what's to say the approach of controlling the social atmosphere (competition is very much social I presume) is itself ethical? Or are we to say that students don't know what they want, or is this a should-be basis thing?


Even though this sounds pessimistic I think that people want competition. I think even social interaction is competitively based. Look at flirting for example. Laughing Well, it really is about who can outdo the other person's last comment. I think that self interest implies competition; it transforms the means of fulfilling self interest from a direct approach to a more subtle, indirect approach, even if it is not very smart, or ethical I suppose too.

And why get rid of "to be". Equality is better than uniformity.

To what extreme would you say to get rid of the competitive atmosphere? Maybe emotional stimulation comes from superiority or the opposite?
Mr Fight the Power
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2008 05:35 pm
@rhinogrey,
This is nonsense.
0 Replies
 
rhinogrey
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2008 05:48 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday20310401 wrote:
I agree but I have a problem with how to go about creating a collaborative atmosphere. It seems to me that students (for highschool anyways) have control over their social setting and atmosphere.

I think to say that high school students have control over their social setting and atmosphere is akin to assuming the existence of free will. On the surface, yes, but if you dig deeper, their subconsciousness has already been formed by the competitive atmosphere they've been involved in since grade 1.

Quote:
Also, there is something immoral about competition, IYO, and in mine. But what's to say the approach of controlling the social atmosphere (competition is very much social I presume) is itself ethical? Or are we to say that students don't know what they want, or is this a should-be basis thing?

I guess this is more of a "should-be" thing. No ought from is, as they say. I guess I'm revealing myself as way too much of an idealist.


Quote:
Even though this sounds pessimistic I think that people want competition.

But do people want competition because their DNA imparts that desire or is it a culmination of their nurture from the time they are born?

Quote:
I think even social interaction is competitively based. Look at flirting for example.

Yes, the structure of what we know as social interaction is competitively based. I'm suggesting we knock over that pillar and start from scratch.

Ultimately, it comes down to whether nurture or nature instills the competitive impulse in people. I tend to think it's the former, and therefore a paradigm shift is possible. Please, I urge anyone to prove me wrong.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Dec, 2008 07:15 am
@rhinogrey,
Yea, of course there's competition and it has both its benefits and damages to all involved. There's really no way to change that; except maybe to try and over-control behavior - which also, by the way, isn't going to happen.

The context in which you speak (read: Young Ones) can be particularly brutal and these competitive experiences (on both sides of the equation) are going to have lasting effects on the budding mind in shaping its foundation.

I wouldn't so much rail against it, since there's not much to be done and is a part of the growing process. I think the best outcome (for the mind that's aware of its presence) is to be aware of the dynamic that's taking place and strive to place what happens into its proper context.

To try and go much further down this road probably isn't going to net much.

Thanks
0 Replies
 
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Dec, 2008 07:28 am
@rhinogrey,
There is a major difference between healthy competition and unhealthy competition. Competition can ultimately push people to do things they didn't think were within their own personal capacities. On the other hand, competition can breed a sort of jealousy and vengeance within a person that is considered the "loser" as well.

What we need is an education system that teaches the proper ways in which competition is a good thing. Not all competition is about ego enhancement. I think the competition problem has to do with the emphasis that is placed on winning in this society rather than the actual competition.
Mr Fight the Power
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Dec, 2008 08:20 am
@rhinogrey,
Competition under a capitalistic society, or at least a market one, is not simply man against man, but man trying to provide a better service that another man.

You have to understand that, while one person may seek to outdo another, they are trying to outdo this other individual in terms of satisfying the means of the customer.

It is competition to better serve.
Jebido
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Dec, 2008 08:31 am
@Theaetetus,
The concept of competition is what brought the human race to where it is today. Not only is it present in 1st world societies, but it societies around the world regardless of how "civilized" they are. Competition is a prime factor in human motivation and it is so deeply seeded into our psyches through both genetics and the way we are brought up that I doubt it would be possible to eliminate it.

That being said; competition has its faults. It just so happens that these faults are present in their purest forms in our school systems (cheating, etc.). Brilliant minds can result from competitive school environments as well as non-competitive ones.

I do agree that school systems could use a bit of retooling but I don't think competition is the problem. We have streamlined our school systems to teach a specific amount of information in a specific amount of time. This is why so much emphasis is put on superficial goals.

Because I am inclined by law to attend school without much say in the matter for another couple years, I find it easy for me to find flaws in the system however, though it deserves more respect than that. I do believe that our current educational system is far better than none at all and in comparison to other time periods, having the opportunity to become educated is much easier. It's a little much to as for attainability and perfection from the same school system.
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jan, 2009 01:31 pm
@Jebido,
Jebido wrote:

That being said; competition has its faults. It just so happens that these faults are present in their purest forms in our school systems (cheating, etc.). Brilliant minds can result from competitive school environments as well as non-competitive ones.


Cheating and all of its relatives are the perverse underside of competition. I think it developed from this idea (to quote a terrible movie, which is fitting for this idea) that "If you're not first, you're last" mentality that seemed to grow out of competitive sports with there being distinct winners and distinct losers. In many cases the incentive to cheat seems to ought weight the potential of getting caught and the consequences due to the minute chance of someone busting the individual for cheating. Until a healthy idea of competition enters schools, coming out on top on tests will outweigh the collective benefit of being challenged by others for the sake of learning.
Joe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jan, 2009 04:16 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power wrote:
Competition under a capitalistic society, or at least a market one, is not simply man against man, but man trying to provide a better service that another man.

You have to understand that, while one person may seek to outdo another, they are trying to outdo this other individual in terms of satisfying the means of the customer.

It is competition to better serve.


Hardly the case. If I walked into a store that sold lamps and the owner knew that the guy next door sold better lamps, you think he would tell me? most likely not. He needs the money to survive.
0 Replies
 
avatar6v7
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Jan, 2009 09:43 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus wrote:
Cheating and all of its relatives are the perverse underside of competition. I think it developed from this idea (to quote a terrible movie, which is fitting for this idea) that "If you're not first, you're last" mentality that seemed to grow out of competitive sports with there being distinct winners and distinct losers. In many cases the incentive to cheat seems to ought weight the potential of getting caught and the consequences due to the minute chance of someone busting the individual for cheating. Until a healthy idea of competition enters schools, coming out on top on tests will outweigh the collective benefit of being challenged by others for the sake of learning.

In britian our supposedly left wing labour government (its new labour- basically thatcher plus liberalism) has spent the last decade happily turning our schools into some kind of obscene game show, where rather than learning and the academic virtues we are taught to compete in the market, and maximise our test scores. Any actual education is incidental.
0 Replies
 
nicodemus
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Jan, 2009 05:16 pm
@rhinogrey,
competition is essential, hence we bundle our kids off to school in massive groups rather than teach them at home. Every day my son pits himself against the others of his class, and when he falls behind, he is determined to take the lead again. As kids, we all felt that, are you really saying that removing the competitive edge from schools are a good idea. Maybe revamp the end of the year exams, in america the SOLs are something of a joke, but the underlying system is pure, the problem lies not with the system, but with those in it
Sekiko
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Jan, 2009 06:35 pm
@nicodemus,
[SIZE="3"][INDENT]
Competition...hmm...
Competition is not only engrained in the education system of the western world, but is deeply rooted in the psyche as a fundamental part of who we are. Millions of years of evolution have ensured that. Would we be better off withou a competitional mindset? Maybe. Industrialism has made many changes, among them, a reduced need to fight others for survival.

I will say, however, that Government schools in the U.S. are not faulty for encouraging competition, which they do very poorly. In fact, since the late 1960's, a collaborative approach has been instituted within american school systems, with disastrous results. Oddly enough, however, it was not the students that were discouraged from competing, but the teachers.

Because of universal public funding, and the inherent job security of teaching classes in the public school system, even if it is for low pay, many of the worst teachers have flooded the system. These adults have no interest in teaching curiousity or intellectualism in their students. Instead, they teach according to the standard government textbook, created to insure loyal and mindless cogs. No, I am not making this up.

And, as if to add insult to injury, the most competitive Private schools not only make the most money, but also have the highest standards. There has been much publicity about how Public School Students in America are at the bottom when compared to students in china and india. What there has been less publilcity about is how students from private schools are almost equal to the same.

It would seem that Competition not only increases the rate at which new ideas are produced(people want to get ahead, after all), but that the public school systems with a more collaborative approach have failed to produce active, interested learners.

Sincerely,
--Sekiko
[/INDENT][/SIZE]
Holiday20310401
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Jan, 2009 09:52 pm
@Sekiko,
Competition is not always the light of self interest but it is the inevitable reality of it.
0 Replies
 
Watchy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 09:56 am
@Sekiko,
Sekiko wrote:

[INDENT]Competition...hmm...
Competition is not only engrained in the education system of the western world, but is deeply rooted in the psyche as a fundamental part of who we are. Millions of years of evolution have ensured that. Would we be better off withou a competitional mindset? Maybe. Industrialism has made many changes, among them, a reduced need to fight others for survival.

I will say, however, that Government schools in the U.S. are not faulty for encouraging competition, which they do very poorly. In fact, since the late 1960's, a collaborative approach has been instituted within american school systems, with disastrous results. Oddly enough, however, it was not the students that were discouraged from competing, but the teachers.

Because of universal public funding, and the inherent job security of teaching classes in the public school system, even if it is for low pay, many of the worst teachers have flooded the system. These adults have no interest in teaching curiousity or intellectualism in their students. Instead, they teach according to the standard government textbook, created to insure loyal and mindless cogs. No, I am not making this up.

And, as if to add insult to injury, the most competitive Private schools not only make the most money, but also have the highest standards. There has been much publicity about how Public School Students in America are at the bottom when compared to students in china and india. What there has been less publilcity about is how students from private schools are almost equal to the same.

It would seem that Competition not only increases the rate at which new ideas are produced(people want to get ahead, after all), but that the public school systems with a more collaborative approach have failed to produce active, interested learners.

Sincerely,
--Sekiko
[/INDENT]


Competition for public funding has done little to improve the education system. Now schools are even more focused on testing, how to do well on tests, and just knowledge needed for testing so they do well on tests and if they do well on tests, they MUST do well in that subject and must have "learned" a good deal... That mind set makes us focus on testing and almost nothing else.
0 Replies
 
Justin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 05:52 pm
@rhinogrey,
Were we really made to compete or cooperate? Something to consider as we look around today and observe the fruits of competition. In competition there's a winner and there's a loser. In cooperation everyone wins.
Watchy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 05:57 pm
@rhinogrey,
True, but some have a need to be a winner and accept nothing else. When we cooperate everybody CAN win but that doesn't happen because we manage to have a competition in "cooperating" groups to assert a "dominant" member.
0 Replies
 
Holiday20310401
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 07:38 pm
@Justin,
Justin wrote:
Were we really made to compete or cooperate? Something to consider as we look around today and observe the fruits of competition. In competition there's a winner and there's a loser. In cooperation everyone wins.



The American election sure doesn't suggest that. IMCO (cynical), there has to be competition. Is it not altruistic to say that the intent of interacting with another subject for the sake of cooperating with the subject trumps the intent of competing with the other subject?

We can cooperate with the interacting subjects, but nothing can trump our egocentric desires. Cooperating has to be self interested but if the motives of the interacting subjects are conflicting then they will not be interested in cooperating, only competing. The only way to cooperate together, is for one to inform the other that his side is better, that it wins over the other. Otherwise you are going to have a compromise, an agree to disagree sort of thing going, where either everybody wins or nobody wins. Nobody can get the better out of the other, but that doesn't mean the motive for that process is taken away. I'd argue the problem with competition is that it focuses on getting the better out of other people, but not of oneself. If we take the idea that everybody is egocentric, and apply it to the concept of the way it ought to be (the form of competition), then we can say all competition should be about bettering oneself by beating himself. This sounds silly, and perhaps I'm not wording it the right way. I mean 'beating' as bettering, sort of.

So you see, cooperation and competition are mutual. What motivates human behaviour let's say is competition and cooperation, but more generally it is the interaction with other subjects that are perceived as a potential value that people wish to gain from.

Cooperation is just a tool to achieve a higher end from. In a sense, it is a more elegant form of competition, and less direct to achieving one's own ends. It's like comparing it to that of selfishness and reciprocal altruism. One can actually achieve higher ends based on the idea of compromising I suppose.
0 Replies
 
Icon
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 07:44 pm
@rhinogrey,
I could post something long and eloquent but instead I will stick to something more simple and direct.

If I had never lost a competition, I would never had tried so hard to cooperate with others. Losing has been more of a teacher to me than winning ever has and cooperation, as much as I like it, sometimes asks for someone to give more than they can hope to receive. Sometimes competition is an excellent way to solve a dispute. After all, what is a dispute but a competition?

There will always be dispute and there will always be competition. It is human nature to strive to be better than the next. I do not want to be in a world where I cannot lose. I certainly do not want to be in a world where I cannot win.
Holiday20310401
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jan, 2009 08:12 pm
@Icon,
But then does it not become winning to be the loser?
0 Replies
 
 

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