Academic journal article College Student Journal

Competition versus Cooperation and Pupil Achievement

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Competition versus Cooperation and Pupil Achievement

Article excerpt

To indicate pupil achievement, two approaches are in vogue. These are to make comparisons among learners to notice achievement versus to work cooperatively in attempting to solve vital problems in teaching and learning. Competitive approaches emphasize norm or criterion referenced test results to notice public progress over previous testing. Numerical results are then in evidence. Competition in comparing one with the other brings out the "best" in individuals, be it pupils or teachers. Low achievement, consecutively from a school, might well make for needed changes which will improve teaching and learning situations. The pressure will be there to make modifications, especially if report card results are published in the daily newspapers, among other media. Comparisons are then made public on how one school district compares with another in learner performance and progress. Cooperative approaches might well be represented with a philosophy of constructivism. Rather than have outsiders be involved in writing test items to measure pupil achievement, the teacher and pupils cooperatively evaluate performance contextually within the classroom setting. Pupils and the teacher work together to provide the best sequential learnings possible.

There is considerable debate pertaining to how to assist pupils to achieve more optimally in school. A conservative point of view advocates competition as a means of helping pupils to learn to achieve at a higher level of accomplishment. Somewhat toward the other end of the continuum, humanism, and the psychology of learning, stresses more of cooperation among diverse stake holders in the local community to assist pupils to learn as much as possible. I will first examine the philosophy of conservatism and their explanations as to what would make for higher pupil achievement in the public schools (Ediger, 1999, Chapter Two).

Conservatism and the Free Enterprise System in Education

Conservatists stress the importance of competition among pupils, schools, and states to bring out the highest possible achievement among learners in school. The free enterprise system has always stated that the United States became great due to competition in the market place where goods and services are bought and sold. What is good will then survive. What is obsolete and/or lacks quality will be weeded out to make room for something better. Slogans do abound in society. Advertising companies so often use slogans to present a favorable impression of their products. I well remember a popular TV program during the 1950s sponsored by a leading tobacco which had the beautiful tune and lyrics of, "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should." I grew up in a very conservative General Conference Mennonite community and yet I loved to listen to that tune! (Ediger, 1997, 25-30).

There are several plans of the market place economy beliefs that would be typical of the conservative philosophy of competition to stir maximum pupil results in academic learning.

The voucher system is one approach in emphasizing competition in the school system. Advocates of the voucher system state that if pupils do not achieve well in the public schools, they should be provided with voucher money to attend a parochial or private school. Instead of the pupil's allotted state/local property tax school money then going to the local place of attendance, that same money would be applied to the learner attending a parochial/private school of personal choice. The thinking here is that the latter type of education is superior to the public schools. A basic philosophical belief is that if pupils leave poor quality schools, they will go out of existence. Good schools will prosper in enrollment due to demand for quality instruction.

Questions that might be raised of the voucher system include the following:

1. will parents truly be informed about which type of school is best for their offspring's future? …

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