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Aaron Yang

High school Mathematics teacher,

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Do we need "losers" to have "winners" in life?

I have recently decided to pursue a career in education and am trying to prepare myself for the upcoming school year. Some of my fears include dispassionate students and the diverse learning curve in a classroom. Although I am wholly optimistic and seeing the best in everyone, I know others will not see the same way. This got me thinking about the success of every individual on this planet.

For there to be winners/successful people, there must be others taking the hit. My question is, do we need to have this structure of successful and non-successful people in the world? Would it be possible for global happiness if everyone received the same goods and services, such as in communism?

Others will argue that different individuals are content with different levels of prosperity. But, at their levels of contentedness will the world remain stable? Say one individual is content with being a gardener after completing 5 years of grade school, whereas another individual is content with being a surgeon after completing 25 years of schooling.

In our society, do we let the unmotivated fall, so the ambitious can rise? Or should we uphold an optimistic approach of everyone becoming successful and prosperous, is this possible?

EDIT::: perhaps this would be more clear.

"If everyone gave their best at whatever they choose, would there be a niche for everyone in society?"

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  • Feb 18 2013: Since your main question is that "Can we teach the young students the concept of "everyone does his best and be satisfied in what he is rewarded from his work regardless of how he was paid/compensated for his effort". This concept of life have been advocated by almost all the popular religions as well as many philosophers. For religious teaching, the explanation is that one should be satisfied with whatever the "God" (In different terminology but essentially the same thing) gives him. However, the human nature would not allow that there won't be competition, envy and discontent among us regarding this "unfairness"; whether real or imagined. But there are somethings an educator can do to at least lessen such envious nature by imbed the concept of the joy of working hard for the fellow men for whatever compensation for one's effort. Usually, if one is really working hard and perform good work, he will be rewarded well with rare exceptions. In communist countries this concept of pay as what one's worth would be the root of new "envy", thus hard work would be discouraged.
    In my opinion, there are more things a teacher can do to cultivate good workers out of most students by showing the students of the "what", "why" and "how" to learn for their life. The usual teacher's function is to stuff lot of information or knowledge into the students' mind/brain, but neglecting the why and how to learn (efficiently). Once they learned the latter 2 concepts, they will naturally enjoy more creative life work, instead of being envious of why others are more successful than themselves. There are so many scientists and researchers who were working tirelessly in all their life without even thinking about the compensation they receive, because the joy of their ability to contribute their effort to improve the welfare of the human society was far more enjoyable than the compensation. I am sure that you and I, as educators, should understand this phenomenon quite well.

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