Competition in education can be healthy but I prefer it to be optional. Some learners are self-motivated and they are best in competition with themselves. Competition can also lead to a one size fits all approach to learning, which counteracts any efforts to differentiate. However, gamifying the learning process is all the rage as many students enjoy external motivations. As a teacher, it is so important to know your students, consider the goals, and plan accordingly when approaching competition in education. Some individuals thrive under pressure while others deflate. Competition can bring out the best and the worst in people.
Establishing a goal-oriented classroom in which students create personal goals for themselves and compete to achieve for their own well-being is ideal. Interestingly, this topic resonates with summer reading. Do you establish summer reading competitions to increase the amount of summer reading that occurs over the summer? If so, what is the reward if you read more than your peers? It comes back to the question: why are you motivated to read? Is it for yourself? Is it for recognition? Is it to please your teacher or librarian? The decision to build competition into education has to start with the goals in mind while considering the best path to reach those goals.