What competition is all about

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What competition is all about

Korea is a highly competitive society. It seems that people are stressed over competition in education, jobs and even relationships. In a capitalist system, competition is bound to be fierce, and there are both good and bad impacts on society.

Germany is somewhat different from Korea, but as it is also a capitalist society fundamentally, competition is perceived positively. Germans like to say, “Competition is good for business” (Konkurrenz belebt das Geschaeft) and “healthy competition” (gesunder Wettbewerb). As long as people care for one another and don’t get overly jealous, competition can improve the value and quality of products.

Healthy competition among people can help enhance competency and lead to mutual growth.

In the economy, consumers can choose from a wider range of products, and the market will expand. In the course of competition, the government should play the role of watchdog, expand welfare benefits and prevent the gap between the rich and the poor from widening excessively.

Personally, I prefer the German economic system of a social market economy rather than completely free market capitalism. An appropriate welfare system enables healthy competition to be possible.

Then do we need competition in education? I do not believe it is necessary. I was surprised when I first heard that Korean students are ranked in class. In Korea, we often hear who did better, or who did the worst.

In schools in Germany, students know who came out as the top of the class, but only the teacher knows the ranking. Germans believe that making the ranking public could encourage jealousy and discourage low-performing students. People are good at different areas and have different interests.

A school is a place where students study together, learn to help each other and kindle passion for their future. The question of who does better is just as meaningless as comparing a bird and a tiger.

The more important question we should be asking is what he or she does best. In education, attaining personal improvement and progress is more important than comparing a student with others in ranking.

When competition intensifies excessively, it leads to jealousy and greed. These emotions could make students more unstable and delay personal and moral growth. How about Korean schools stop publishing rankings altogether? Then, schools can lose excessive competition and gain healthy competition.

The author is a TV personality from Germany who appears on the JTBC talk show “Non-Summit.”

JoongAng Ilbo, March 3, Page 32

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