Penn State

David S. Bender - Associate Professor of Educational Psychology, Penn State Berks

Book Title: No Contest: The Case Against Competition

Author: Alfie Kohn

Book Description:

As an education professor, I am concerned about the nature of learning among students in our schools. Kohn describes how competition can negatively impact the self-concept of children and result in less learning by students. The book examines the role of contests with respect to culture and human nature, concluding that many widely held beliefs about competition are really myths. It is not only an issue of what values are taught in school but also the social skills that individuals learn in relating to each other, their perceptions of themselves, their attitudes toward learning, and their performance both in school and while participating in extracurricular activities.

Many of the new students majoring in education tell me that competition in schools motivates children to learn more and that it prepares children for life in society. The education majors hold these beliefs even though they have observed or even experienced themselves the negative consequences of competition in school settings that turn so many children into losers. My goal is to help these future teachers recognize the problems created by various forms of competition in and out of classrooms so that they believe in and have the goal of creating learning structure where all children can experience success is the best way to promote learning.

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