There are two influences that are introduced to children in education. One is competition and the other is collaboration. They are both traditions within the learning community. The philosophy of education that informs your practice creates the degree of influence competition or collaboration exerts on your words, thoughts, and actions.
Competition is about the individual and the product I create. The product is created for credit, a grade, or recognition. As we get older the product is created for promotion and money. Competition creates action but this action results in a winner and a loser. These are inequitable actions that create happiness in the winner and sadness or anger in the loser. Competition creates the opportunity for others to judge us. This creates a system where others tell us if we are valued and worthy. Our self worth then is about what others think of us instead of what we know about ourselves. We may have given our best to a work but the grade tells us we have failed by the letter affixed to it.
Collaboration is different. It is about the process of learning not the product. Collaboration is about us, and how we can raise all ships in the search for answers. It seeks trust in our fellow learners as we make mistakes and grow together. Collaboration creates action as the group creates energy to find answers and make discoveries. It is about cooperation and sharing the gift of learning with others. The benefits are equitable as all the members of the learning community grow as the experience of others is transferred by positive reinforcement.
Our words, thoughts, and actions are the tools educators use to guide children along the learning journey. As educators, we have to decide to what degree competition and collaboration fit into our practice. It is a personal decision based on what you believe about children. This is an important consideration in our work and self-examination of how we want to influence the learning community.