Children: Cooperate or Compete?
Some people think that a sense of competition in children should be encouraged. Others believe that children who are taught to co-operate rather than compete become more useful adults. Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.
Some people view the world as a competitive place, and push their children to win. Others, however, value cooperation, and encourage their children to share, play and work together. In this essay, I will ask if winning always means that the other person loses, and whether teaching our children to win is the best preparation for life.
Competition is undoubtedly good. First of all, it pushes us to do well, both as children and adults. Our physical limits are tested in competitive sports. Competition in business helps companies to produce new products and services, and competition in politics ensures that different opinions get heard and represented. For children, learning to compete is good preparation for the world. A second point is that competition does not just mean winning: children have to learn to lose well and to learn from their mistakes. In addition, competition does not just mean success for the individual. When competing as part of a team children learn the need to share and cooperate.
However, a focus on competitiveness is not always beneficial for children. To begin with, very young children are naturally egocentric. As a result, they have to learn that there are others around them. Children have to be taught the skills of cooperation and sharing. A further point is that by learning to cooperate and work in teams, children learn to share responsibility when things go badly as well as when they go well. Finally, in our highly-interdependent knowledge society, very few breakthroughs happen as a result of one person’s work or ideas. No matter how brilliant an individual is, his or her work is the result of working in a team or a community. In fact, many people now believe that all learning is social, rather than individual.
In conclusion, it is almost impossible to separate these two strands of our lives. We are individuals but we are also social. In his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” Steven Covey suggests we need to develop a “win-win” attitude. We need to be true to ourselves and what we need, but also to think about the other person’s needs. If we can help our children to do this, we will be doing future generations a huge service.