World Education Games

March sees the start of the World Education Games. This wonderful event has three main elements:

World Literacy Day – 5th March

World Maths Day – 6th March

World Science Day – 7th March

And, if you register your kids to take part, you’ll not only join four million other children from around the world, you’ll also be participating in a World Record attempt – exciting stuff! But you don’t have to take part to take part, if you see what I mean. You can set up your own World Education Games if you like, with simple games for the children to participate in.

Differing Opinions on Competition Amongst Children

However, it’s worth noting that there are differing opinions about the role of competition in the lives of children. Matt Richtel discussed this topic in a recent article, ‘The Competing Views on Competition’ in the New York Times and points out that some experts believe that children should not be exposed to any kind of competition at all. And they word their views very strongly indeed. For example, respected author and speaker Alfie Kohn says “The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that competition is destructive, particularly, but not exclusively, for children” and goes on to say, “It’s a toxic way to raise children.” That could be pretty scary stuff, especially if you have kids that seem to be competitive naturally. He also states that the evidence shows that, contrary to popular belief “The absence of competition seems to be a prerequisite for excellence in most endeavours”.

On the other side of the fence are those who believe that competition is not only inevitable, it’s necessary and essential to a child’s development. But, there are still some things that need to be taken into account regarding the kind of reward given for the winners. It seems the way forward is to encourage children to compete for the challenge of doing well and mastering a skill. The prize, if there is any, for winning should be of secondary importance.

Dr Tauer, a professor of psychology, advises that “One of the biggest culprits in psychology is wanting kids to feel good all the time,” he goes on to say that “Trying to avoid competition is making it bigger than it needs to be.” And that it is co-operation alongside competition that should be encouraged. It seems this produces greater levels of satisfaction and enjoyment for the kids.

Interestingly, Eric van Dillen, an ex-tennis champion, states that the champions he’s played and been around see competition as a problem to be solved and that most have neither a feeling of diminished or increased self-esteem when they win or lose. He also observed that they would carry this attitude into their everyday lives and would be successful at most things they tried.

This great website, True Competition, is dedicated to turning competition back into an exercise that focuses on excellence, ethics and enjoyment.

Fascinating stuff eh! Want to learn more? This fact sheet also looks at the facts and offers advice – Children and Competition.

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