Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wednesday Wisdom: Competition vs. Conflict in Community

Parker Palmer, in his book The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life, makes a case for conflict not competition as a way to learn.

At its best, the community of truth advances our knowledge through conflict, not competition. Competition is a secretive, zero-sum game played by individuals for private gain; conflict is open and sometimes raucous but always communal, a public encounter in which it is possible for everyone to win by learning and growing. Competition is the antithesis of community, an acid that can dissolve the fabric of relationships. Conflict is the dynamic by which we test ideas in the open, in a communal effort to stretch each other and make better sense of the world. (103)
Palmer's ideas invite reflection. Thinking of your own classroom, do you see conflict or competition in the mix? Thinking of your own learning moments, is conflict or competition part of it? How does it affect your and others' learning?

Consider reading Palmer's book for more practical inspiration to have courage in the classroom.

Have a courageous day!


Palmer, Parker. The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, 1998. Print.