No Contest: The Case Against Competition

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No Contest, which has been stirring up controversy since its publication in 1986, stands as the definitive critique of competition. Drawing from hundreds of studies, Alfie Kohn eloquently argues that our struggle to defeat each other - at work, at school, at play, and at home - turns all of us into losers.

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, ...

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Overview

No Contest, which has been stirring up controversy since its publication in 1986, stands as the definitive critique of competition. Drawing from hundreds of studies, Alfie Kohn eloquently argues that our struggle to defeat each other - at work, at school, at play, and at home - turns all of us into losers.

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, our workplaces and schools are in trouble because 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. Because any win/lose arrangement is undesirable, we will have to restructure our institutions for the benefit of ourselves, our children, and our society.

For this revised edition, Kohn adds a comprehensive account of how students can learn more effectively by working cooperatively in the classroom instead of struggling to be Number One. He also offers a pointed and personal afterword, assessing shifts in American thinking on competition and describing reactions to his provocative message.

Updated for the 1990s, the award-winning book that stands as the definitive critique of competition. Kohn says that contrary to accepted wisdom, competition is not basic to "human nature, " but actually poisons our relationships, damages our self-esteem, and holds us back from doing our best. Includes new matial on "cooperative learning" in the classroom. "By perceiving that cooperation is the answer, not competition, Alfie Kohn opens a new world of living."--Dr. W. Edwards Deming.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Contending that competition in all areasschool, family, sports and businessis destructive, and that success so achieved is at the expense of another's failure, Kohn, a correspondent for USA Today, advocates a restructuring of our institutions to replace competition with cooperation. He persuasively demonstrates how the ingrained American myth that competition is the only normal and desirable way of lifefrom Little Leagues to the presidencyis counterproductive, personally and for the national economy, and how psychologically it poisons relationships, fosters anxiety and takes the fun out of work and play. He charges that competition is a learned phenomenon and denies that it builds character and self-esteem. Kohn's measures to encourage cooperation in lieu of competition include promoting noncompetitive games, eliminating scholastic grades and substitution of mutual security for national security.September 23
Library Journal
Kohn, a journalist whose work has appeared in such publications as The Nation and Psychology Today , has written a timely summary of research and commentary by others on the psychology of competitiveness. He seeks to debunk ``the rationalizations for competition''that it is inevitable, more productive, more enjoyable, and likely to build character. In closely reasoned argument he shows that, while competition is deeply ingrained, it is also inherently destructive, especially where self-esteem is contingent on winning at the expense of others. The book, which lacks depth only in its discussion of organizational behavior and the incentive for creativity, will provoke considerable discussion. Recommended for general collections and subject collections on social interaction. William Abrams, Portland State Univ. Lib., Ore.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395453940
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 9/15/1987
  • Pages: 272

Meet the Author

Alfie Kohn's six previous books include Punished by Rewards and No Contest: The Case Against Competition, as well as Beyond Displine and What to Look for in a Classroom. Descrilbed by Time magazine last year as "perhaps the country's most outspoken critic of educational fixation on grades and test scores," he is a popular lecturer, speaker to teachers, parents, and reasearchers accross the country. The author currently resides in Belmont, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 The "Number One" Obsession 1
2 Is Competition Inevitable? The "Human Nature" Myth 11
3 Is Competition More Productive? The Rewards of Working Together 45
4 Is Competition More Enjoyable? On Sports, Play, and Fun 79
5 Does Competition Build Character? Psychological Considerations 96
6 Against Each Other: Interpersonal Considerations 132
7 The Logic of Playing Dirty 158
8 Women and Competition 168
9 Beyond Competition: Thoughts on Making Change 182
10 Learning Together 197
Afterword 233
Notes 247
References 289
Index 315
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