We spend a great deal of time in our school encouraging our students to cooperate with each other. From a very early age, we want young people to listen to each other, to learn from each other, to work together to solve problems and to understand that we generally achieve more together than we do alone. There are times though, when a little competitive spirit is no bad thing. Sometimes the competitive edge is what we need to help us strive for greater things.
Our school has a long tradition of being strong in competitive environments. Our trophy cabinet in reception is bursting with silverware from the sports fields of course but there are also trophies in there won by students in debating teams, spelling bees and inter-school quizzes. In recent times our students have gone up against students from far afield to win prizes for their poetry, their prose and their speech making. We have a strong track record in mathematics competitions such as Ken-Ken and the UK Maths Challenges and we are the ‘team to beat’ when it comes to Language Perfect! Competitions such as these give our students the opportunity to pit themselves against outstanding students across the globe and for some, the competitive element can be what they need to dig a little deeper into their personal resources, to find the excellence that they are capable of.
A competitive nature can be a very positive personality trait as long as it is nurtured carefully and does not become an ‘all or nothing’ attitude. We do not want to encourage a ‘win at all costs’ mentality or have our students believe that anything less than first place represents a failure. But a healthy competition can push us to do things that we didn’t know we could do and bring great joy, either when we win or when we reflect on the adrenalin that the competition created. All of life is a balance: our students need to know how to cooperate and how to compete.