Friday, February 13, 2015

Competition and Bullying

I recently came across an article named "Steve Hargadon: Escaping the Education Matrix" by Luba Vangelova. 

The article recaps Hardagon's cross-country education tour. He's logged over 400 interviews, speaking to all sorts of eduction stakeholders.While the article has many interesting points, one in particular blew me away.

“We’re placing kids in an artificial environment,” he says, “telling most of them they’re not good at things, and then expecting them not to explode at each other? Of course they will. The ‘mean girls’ thing is not a natural part of childhood—it’s more a reflection of how kids are being treated than a reflection of kids. It’s shocking that we put up with it.”

Wow! Like major wow!

I never made this connection before, but it makes total sense. The idea is totally congruent with my thoughts about competition in the classroom. I just never brought competition to this logical conclusion. If we incentivize eduacation as a zero-sum game, where some "beat" others, it is completely natural that kids will think they can oppress, control, or bully others. The saddest part about this? We setup these systems knowing we could do better. 

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