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Should the concept of competition be eliminated from schools?

Recently I've learned about Finland's educational system. Eliminating the sense of competition between students. No standardized test until they reach the age of 16. The least number of school hours in the world and the best resutls in the standardized tests.
I, as a student myself, I'd see it as a solution to self-esteem issues when it comes to grades and trust in abilities. I get As but I've been wondering how well other students would do if there was no pressure about tests and gradual, self-understanding would do help them achieve what we deserve as a result from education.

Please give your opinion in terms of school experience, and if you're from Finland (or studied there in that system) please don't doubt in sharing.


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    Mar 29 2013: Grades/marks/scores and competition are not really the same thing. Marks can be a measure of attainment of learning objectives- you against goals, without having anything to do with how anyone else is doing. For example, let's say a small goal is to learn your times tables through 12 times 12. The percentage that you know then is a mark or score. It has nothing to do with what the student behind you knows. You are not competing for the mark against anyone.

    I went to school a long time ago. But my daughters went through public school through high school. My recollection was that their grades conveyed how well the teachers believed from various assessments that they knew the course material. I don't think they were "graded on the curve."

    When I taught secondary school, I marked kids by how well they could use the course content in application. I did not grade on a curve. The school adopted a policy of all the teachers putting up marks online so that parents could use a confidential code to check their kids' marks at any time. They knew how their kids were doing in terms of course goals- not other kids.

    I was not comfortable with such frequent communication of marks, because parents often over-reacted, I think, to single scores as if one sorry mark spelled the beginning of a slide toward doom.

    My son goes to a private school for high school. In that setting few assignments have a grade attached, but there are ample comments to guide students in improving their work. The only communication to parents are mid-term and end of term grades and narrative comments. So grades are attached ultimately but not emphasized. the kids are certainly not graded in comparison to each other. The grading is ultimately much tougher than in the public school, where I considered grades often to be somewhat inflated to relieve anxiety in students and parents.

    Kids work much harder, I think, at the private school that puts fewer grades on papers but ultimately grades harder.
    • Mar 29 2013: I see what you're talking about. Yet, grades/marks/scores are a different kind of competition between the students. Who got the best grade, who is doing better than others by a lot. There are two extremes in who gains how much out of their educational system. In my opinion, there's also a big importance when it comes to parents monitoring a student's grade. If they over-react it's because they assumed their kid was doing alright but they aren't (or maybe something else).

      I go to a school which offers both the IGCSE and IB programs (which I'm lucky to be in). There a high level of competition not between the teachers or parents, but between the students in any level. "I beat ____ " "I got a better grade than ____ " and it affects other students' perception on how good they're doing with their grades. It's to such an extent that some stop caring about their education. Because, believe it or not (not you, I mean as the expression suggests) we know that better grades are a possibly a better chance into getting into a good university, and having a good job.
      Although of course, not everything is based on where you go to college or how smart you are.
      And yes, I do agree that private schools grade harder and put fewer grades on papers because they leave harder assignments which require more time and more thought into it. At least in my experience as a student in international programs.
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        Mar 29 2013: Don't you think that if a school gave no grades or pretty much all As, kids would still be conscious of the fact that universities will be looking at ways to distinguish them when it comes to college admission? My daughters went to a school that typically had 40 valedictorians with 4.0 averages. Two each year got into Harvard and another two, maybe to Yale and so forth. If grades cannot distinguish them to the college admissions officer, other measures of academic achievement and potential as well as extracurricular activities will be used, and students know it. Regardless of whether there are grades, good colleges will not admit into their regular student body everyone who wants to go there.

        My three kids all knew growing up to keep their grades to themselves.
        • Mar 29 2013: Well, yes. Good point of view there, and wow, 40 valedictorians. I'm the kind that keeps her grades to herself as well. Also, I don't know how I forgot the other things that affect your admission to universities. I'm looking for a scholarship myself through sports, combined with grades.
          That reminds me about this Asian kid in my school who applied to MIT but because there was no activities he really participated in and his attitude was pretty bad he didn't get accepted. Yet I do think we should be taught to keep to ourselves, mainly in school. Now that I think about it... my school just over-stimulates competition...
          Thanks for making me realize that again. By the way, I think that was going to be expected since I live in El Salvador, Central America where education is something that even the government puts more attention to.

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