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This is one of the best blog posts I have read in a long time: Competing With Competition? It is about competition and how it destroys cooperation in organizations. It describes the Heisenberg uncertainty principle:
In quantum physics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that certain pairs of physical properties, like position and momentum, cannot both be known to arbitrary precision. That is, the more precisely one property is known, the less precisely the other can be known.
Then it applies this principle to organizations:
So what happens when we compete with each other? What are the consequences when we decimate each other? What happens when one departments competes with another department in the same company? What happens when one person competes with another for a salary and bonuses? What happens when society competes with Wall Street for their 401K? What happens when the competition is already lost – do we continue competing or do we then cooperate?
Which is exactly why adding extrinsic incentives totally borks the conditions which make peer-production systems work. People who don't understand how these principles work, well meaning people, try to incent what can't be incented, and they totally break it in the process.
It's the same thing with education. Want to improve education tomorrow? Then stop this competition madness immediately. Throw-out that which destroys learning: competition. Recognize that most learning is socially constructed, and do everything in your power to promote those social elements.
I saw a wonderful one-person play this week about the life of George Washington Carver, Listening to the Still Small Voice played by Paxton Williams. He had a take-away line that would be a perfect mantra for education, Lift as you climb. You can't lift when you're devoting your energy to finishing on top.