Message from Head of School
Thursday, December 3, 2020
Dear MMS Community,
Competition. I recently read about this experiment with 5-year-olds: “...children were given a choice: They could have one sticker, and another child would also get one sticker. Or they could get two stickers and the other child would get three stickers. Even though in the second scenario the child would get more stickers, 5-year-olds were more likely to choose the first scenario.” A professor who studies fairness in young children concluded, “If someone else is doing better than them, kids don’t like that...And there are some situations where kids like it even less.”
We each fall on a spectrum of intensity and degree, but most humans have competitiveness in our natures. It’s a mistaken simplification to conclude that Montessori is “against” competition. Rather, we recognize that, as social beings dependent on one and other, it’s healthiest to channel the drivenness that competitiveness can fuel into challenging ourselves to continue to grow and strengthen; to find satisfaction in our continual refinement rather than in crushing our peers. Further, when we can find joy and satisfaction in our peer’s strengths, development, and achievements--instead of feeling diminished--we open ourselves up to so many more opportunities for happiness and pro-social connections.
If you’d like to read more about how to support that competitive impulse in your child, I recommend this brief article (especially helpful for parents of children who get very dysregulated when they “lose”).