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Intersection of Competition and Hope

So much has been written about competition. Today, I argue that to compete is to have hope.
This week our students were preparing for spring break. Their eyes were solidly on a week of sleeping in, games, Netflix, and no homework. It also happens to be the final week to submit their creative work for possible selection in the ACTELA Anthology. Friday was a whirlwind of preparing over 35 students and their work for submission.

I watched with sympathy as each student agonized over the titles of their creative works. I watched as they approved their final submissions and clicked the send button. I watched their eyes glow with hope as they learned about the possibility inherent in their submission. Hope is inherent in the act of competition.

Academic or athletic competition imbues students with hope.  Learning how to behave under the pressure of competition is part of maturation.  I have always appreciated a colleague, Dr. Kevin Durand, who taught his soccer players to win as if you have won before and lose as if you will win again. To win and lose with class is a skill that we must continue to teach our students. The games they play and the movies they watch tend to illustrate the opposite.

To win or to lose is to inspire hope. A student only turns away from competition when they lack self-esteem.  When students create and innovate, they are filled with self-empowerment. Our schools need to empower our students to create and to innovate. But, creation and innovation should involve hard work.
          "Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest a crop where nothing was 
            planted!"~ Dr. Joyce Knudsen.  (@drjoyce_knudsen)

We are no longer educating for the factory. We are educating for leadership and for jobs that do not yet exist. Creation and innovation or PBL and  Genius Hour are concepts that must have high academic expectations for our students. We can't merely put students on the stage and expect them to win if they haven't put in the hard work themselves. It is also not enough to simply put students in a sandbox of creation and innovation to play. We must combine the academic expectations and the possibilities of competition in order to empower our students.

I welcome your thoughts.

Suzanne Rogers


Taught, volunteered and substituted for almost 30 years in public, private, and charter schools.
English teacher, AP teacher department chair, AP Discipline, AP Academics, Curriculum and PD, ELA Coach
Avid mom of two college cubs, AP English teacher, Instructional Facilitator, cradle United Methodist.


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