Competition may be one of the most contentious and misunderstood topics in education.
Should we allow our students to actively compete and participate in Youth Competitions? The dilemma is that while competitions certainly create winners, and allow the select few to revel in the flory of victory, in equal measure there definitely will be students who will have to deal with the disappointment of defeat.
It is hard to know what to believe when it comes to competitions in education because there is so much misinformation and seemingly conflicting research studies on the topic.
While we do recognize that there are potential detriments from engaging youth to participate in competitions, we have come to the conclusion that overall, the pros do outweigh the cons, especially when Healthy Competition is involved. Thus, we're going to give a brief overview of a few benefits to the youth for joining and actively participating in competitions.
1. Improving Teamwork and Collaboration
Most team-based educational competitions require students to take on challenging tasks that require good communication, collaboration, and teamwork. The fact that they are striving to achieve such a challenging task together, makes them work harder at understanding their specific skills, and how to work well with one another. The fact that they know other teams are aiming to achieve the same goals, goes a long way in motivating the teams to become more cohesive, and better collaborators.
2. Enhancing Social and Emotional Learning
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is a complex area of development for students and the educators trying to help them. There are so many factors at play here it is sometimes difficult to determine what will have an impact, and if the same interventions will have the same impacts on all students. Through competitions students can gain better understanding of how to deal with conflicting opinions and ideas. They can learn how to collaborate with widely differing personalities. They can learn to manage subjectivity in their lives. And they can learn to better gauge and evaluate risks.
3. Facilitating Growth Mindsets
By having a growth mindset, we constantly look for ways to improve ourselves, and this leads to increased opportunity in our careers and personal lives. Learning to have a growth mindset is not something that is taught in school. We can gain this skill by conducting small iterations and repeatedly exploring improvement in the tasks we take on. Competitions set a framework for practicing and facilitating a growth mindset for students. They give benchmarks upon which we can base our improvements, and put value on the challenge of improving.
4. Enhancing Beneficial Peer Comparisons
Students are constantly comparing themselves to their peers. This is a fact of life that we cannot stop. Comparison is built into human nature. It is a natural way of evaluating how we're doing on the things that matter to us. What we can change are the items on which we compare ourselves. When well-designed, competitions can help students move towards these beneficial peer comparisons and place them in a similar high regard along with other social status comparisons.
5. Building Mental Toughness
Persistence, resiliency, and grit are all components of Mental Toughness. These valuable real-world skills come in handy across every area of our careers and lives. We must know how to bend and not break under pressure. We must learn how to handle stressful, competitive situations in life. Youth Competitions ensure that students will not be put in these situations for the first time when they jump into their jobs.
These are just a few of the broad spectrum of benefits that students can achieve through Youth Competitions. It is critical that educators, coaches, parents, and competition organizers understand the best-practices in executing competition design in ways to ensure these benefits are realized.
On a side note, if you're keen on venturing out of your comfort zone and joining a Youth Competition to challenge yourself, our DFG Youth Competition is now open for all students to join! Click here to find out more, and to register for the competition.
Take the Chance, and Make the Change in your life by joining us today!