Alfie Kohn is the Noam Chomsky of psychology and education. His research on competition, completed years ago, is more relevant and vital today than ever.
Kohn’s book No Contest: The Case Against Competition reviews all the available research in “psychology, sociology, biology, education, and other fields,” clearly demonstrating that our struggle to defeat each other — at work, at school, at play, and at home — turns all of us into losers:
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“Contrary to the myths with which we have been raised, Kohn shows that competition is not an inevitable part of ´human nature.´ It does not motivate us to do our best (in fact, the reason our workplaces and schools are in trouble is that they value competitiveness instead of excellence.) Rather than building character, competition sabotages self-esteem and ruins relationships. It even warps recreation by turning the playing field into a battlefield.
No Contest makes a powerful case that ‘healthy competition’ is a contradiction in terms.