No Contest : The Case Against Competition

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Title No Contest : The Case Against Competition
Publication Type Book
Pub Year 1992
Authors Kohn, A.
Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Keywords competition, conformity, creativity, individuality, motivation, play, results
Notes play"As soon as play becomes product-oriented or otherwise extrinsically motivated, it ceases to be play." (p. 81)
creativity, competition"Creativity is anticonformist at its core; it is nothing if not a process of idiosyncratic thinking and risk-taking. Competition inhibits this process." (p. 130)
conformity"The word conformity implies something more than acting like others, of course. To conform is to go along, to accept a situation as it is. Its opposite is not only individuality but the acts of questioning and rebelling. In this broader sense, too, competition seems to promote conformity. If winning is the goal, one naturally tries to avoid doing anything that could jeopardize it." (p. 130)
results"When process has been supplanted by product in so many aspects of our lives, the same transformation must eventually occur with respect to the way we regard life itself. Who we are and what we are worth have come to be evaluated in terms of what we actually have produced or done, what tangible evidence of achievement can be adduced, what we have to show for ourselves. As soon as we illuminate this thinking, of course, its absurdity becomes clear. What is the point of all our frowning purposefulness? This shattering question -- typically whispered in middle age when we can smell our mortality (and hastily dismissed as depression) -- never gets a satisfactory answer. The pursuit of results is ultimately futile because there is no grand summation or coherent unity to our lives other than what we confer on them by the process of living." (p. 125)