> Is it ethical to force ALL students to learn by competing? What kind of
> learning is the result of forced competition? Most competitive
> situations are not about learning, they are for those who want to
> compete. I wonder if contributions to this listserve would be enhanced if
> we were forced to compete for, say, the "Most Insightful Comment" award.
Bill's paragraph reads just as well if we replace the word "compete" and its inflections with the word "collaborate" and its analogous inflections.
> I agree with Talman in that we need to design curriculum to allow for
> both competition and collaboration, but the competition should only be
> for those who choose to compete.
Then should not collaboration "only be for those who choose to" collaborate?
To muddy the waters even further, one could observe that competition sometimes takes place within collaborative groups, while collaborative groups sometimes compete with each other. In particular, in the world of sports (which is the world I read Bill's comment about "most competitive situations" as referring to), the teams that are best able to compete are those that comprise individuals who collaborate best toward the team's ends.
Competition is natural, and to the extent that it fosters learning, we should take advantage of--even encourage--it. That is not to say that in so doing we must discourage collaboration or fail to take advantage of its desirable effects on learning. There is healthy competition, just as there is unhealthy collaboration.
In the hands of the effective teacher, both competition and collaboration have their roles; we should disparage neither, in its place, in favor of the other.