I walked down a small mountain with a student last month. It was a school outing, and he wasn’t able to stay for the whole hike because he taught a martial arts class to little kids in the afternoon. The mountain we were walking down was just big enough (bigger than a hill, smaller than a real mountain) that it was not a great idea to tell the kid to go down on his own, so I accompanied him to the train, then walked back up to meet the rest of the group for the picnic.

I asked him what he found most difficult about teaching small kids, and he said it was hard to teach the kids a sense of competition, and something went “tilt” in my head. Do we learn competition, or is it ingrained in us?

There seems to be some agreement that it’s partially individual (some people are naturally competitive, others not). There also seems to be some variation in the type of competitivity; does the person want to win so that the other loses, or do they want to win because it means they have “mastered” something? And by “mastered”, I mean 1) the task itself (chess, basketball, top of the class in some subject, a business venture) and 2) mastered their fear of losing.

In this article: the writer talks about teaching kids not just to win but to “foster cooperation”. The happiest kids are the ones that had a challenge to rise to, but it was more a competition against themselves, or with a partner (you only succeeded if your partner did, too).

I wonder what we would be like if we weren’t taught competitivity, if we weren’t taught to win. I wonder if we would be kinder. I wonder if the world would be a better place.

In any case, there is no competition where Foro is concerned. He’s the best.

Foro, the cow of all the superlatives (cutest, best, wisest….)

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