Competition is a tricky concept in Montessori. We thought we would take this opportunity to try to elucidate the conditions of competition and offer a few thoughts on why Montessori employs collaboration instead of competition.
What does it mean to compete?
In a very fundamental sense, competition has become a mainstay in the way we think about traditional education. Think about homework, quizzes and tests: rewards, prizes and extra-credit. The system is set up to evaluate and judge an individual by their progress in relation to their peers.
We would like to think about education in terms of collaboration.
You see, for us, education isn’t about competition. Competition is too easy. After all, you only need to surpass your opponent. How much greater is it to surpass yourself?
Think of the greatest athletes, or musicians or artists. In those historic moments, when they transcended expectations and innovated something never before seen or accomplished, was it about beating their competition?
It was about discovering and trying to improve their own capabilities. When you compete, you end up playing by the same rules, instead of pioneering your own categories.
One of our favorite examples is the work of Jacquelyn Du Pre. Do you have other examples? We'd love to hear them. Leave a comment below!