Is Competition Ever Appropriate in a Cooperative Classroom?

COOPERATIVE LEARNING MAGAZINE 1993 – vol. 13, no. 3 Is Competition Ever Appropriate in a Cooperative Classroom? By Alfie Kohn Of the numerous benefits of cooperative learning (CL), the one that first appealed to many of us was its status as an alternative to competition.  Some combination of observation, personal experience, and research has made it painfully clear that setting … Read More

Competition vs. Excellence

NEW YORK TIMES April 26, 1991 Competition vs. Excellence By Alfie Kohn Even before we examine each provision of President Bush’s new proposal to make our educational system more competitive, we should challenge the premise of his plan. The trouble with our schools is that they are already much too competitive. The very word “competitiveness,” lately a favorite of educators, economists, … Read More

Fun & Fitness Without Competition

WOMEN’S SPORTS & FITNESS July/August 1990 Fun & Fitness Without Competition By Alfie Kohn I learned my first game at a birthday party.  You remember it:  X players scramble for X-minus-one chairs each time the music stops.  In every round a child is eliminated until at the end only one is left triumphantly seated while everyone else is standing on the … Read More

No Contest

INC. Magazine November 1987 No Contest By Alfie Kohn [This is a slightly expanded version of the original article.]  Long before anyone was talking about team-building or Theory Z — less than a decade after World War II, in fact – a sociologist named Peter Blau compared two groups of interviewers at a public employment agency. Those in the first … Read More

The Case Against Competition

WORKING MOTHER September 1987 The Case Against Competition By Alfie Kohn When it comes to competition, we Americans typically recognize only two legitimate positions: enthusiastic support and qualified support. The first view holds that the more we immerse our children (and ourselves) in rivalry, the better. Competition builds character and produces excellence. The second stance admits that our society has … Read More