When is competition beneficial for people, and why is the stress associated with high-stakes testing not the same as good competition?
You should check out this NYT Magazine article, it’s a bit long but worth at least a good skim. Here are some simplified highlights that most of us know intuitively, but perhaps haven’t seen altogether in one text:
– Stress is experienced differently by different people
– Some kids (people) do not get stressed in testing situations
– Some kids (people) get stressed to the point of paralysis in testing situations
– Because of this difference, some kids (people) are perceived as “more capable” in testing situations (where it “matters” in school) and some are perceived as “more capable” in non-testing situations (where, in this context of high-stakes testing as THE measure of worth, doesn’t “matter”)
– Short-term stress in performance situations when a person is highly motivated by the activity (swim meet, chess game, public performance, etc.) can produce positive performance adrenaline
– High-stakes testing is not in the same “category” as the competitive situations where short-term stress can be beneficial