when life is a competition

I remember the moment when I realized as a teacher that I not only had to grade the papers I had set for my monthly tests, but I also had to gather the results in other subjects and put all these grades together in a system so that in the end it would be clear who was the best students for this specific month. Then all the boys could see how they were doing, well, they knew how they were doing, for they had received their marks. Now they could also see how their classmates were doing and how low or high their position in class was. The system provided a stiff competition with your classmates. 

The system did not allow for a relationship between your abilities and your output. The system did not allow for considering one’s privileged background and his output. The others were seen as competitors, not as fellow students, or people you could encourage and be encouraged by. There was harshness in the system. Not working with your gifts and talents (everyone is different!), but being competitors.

Caine prize-winner Namwali SerpellI thought of this when I read this article by the writer Chibundu Onuzo. She wrote it after the winner of the Caine Prize 2015 shared her spoils with the others who were shortlisted. 

 

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