More to the story.
To push through college financially, I worked a lot of factory jobs. Meeting a wide variety of people, I learned most didn’t really love their job. Some didn’t even like their job.
So why do it?
To understand their motivation it helps to dive a bit deeper.
In education, we talk about motivational levels. I like to think of the progression moving this way:
External - future - competitive with others - and, competitive with self.
Sometimes competition is misunderstood. When it comes to competition, it can be more than okay. Alright, here’s my opinion (take it or leave it). Even in a classroom. Even in a workplace. Among friends. In a family. It can be a very good thing.
Perspective is key. In a classroom, we all glanced at the grade on the paper next to us, to get a check on how we were doing. It caused an immediate emotional reaction. We were competing with others. When we recognize it as healthy competition to inspire us to do better, let's encourage it. If it relates to a feeling of self-worth, we have a problem. With students, this is generally an easy fix through communicating the role of competition. Communication. An amazing thing. Can we compete, so that all rise? Can it be a way to engage momentum and motivation - for everyone? Can it provide healthy feedback? Again, communication is key. (And for those of you competitor types who enjoy watching the demise of others - I’m sorry, you’re all losers, with some real insecurity issues! Issues that the rest of us wish you would get resolved.)
I’ll have to admit, I wasn’t sure about opening the conversation with students. Could they get past feelings of shame, about the low score? Would they want someone else to see the score, or would they identify as, “I’m a ‘D’ .“ The real question is, “Can we get others to be self-competitive?” It changes the game. An amazingly different student.
One more pause.. with self competitive versus with others competitive. A revelation of my own (in competitions) was the difference of the two competition levels on the game field. Self competitors are a more feared opponent. “Other” competitors enter the arena hoping they win. They are vulnerable to a loss. Self competitors are thinking how they will do it, and how they can improve. In a way, they are beyond the win. The latter are most generally the tougher of the two. They never really ever lose, they just get better. BTW: Self-competitors also do tend to win a lot. Not that winning is critical to them. It happens as a healthy consequence.
But there is more than rewards and competition.
Next time. For now, be the best you, you can be!