Competition and Achievement Group Guide

Volume II, Issue I/II

Are competition and achievement related? What does it mean to be a “healthy” competitor? Have we lost sight of the role that ancient values like honor play in our quest for success? These are some of the difficult questions that writers tackled in this issue of KidSpirit.

1. In the Big Question, Ben Decker asks whether or not competition brings out the best in us. He shows how competition may have increased innovation in civilizations, while at the same time, it could cause societies to place too much emphasis on work. What do you think? In our Awesome Moments section, two writers share experiences of personal achievement in swimming and chess. Many of us have had similar moments. Is there a balance that can be struck which will allow us to be successful without being unhealthily competitive?

2. Honor is an important value in Samurai culture (called Bushido), much as in the American Navy. In the essay on cheating, an anonymous writer grapples with how to define honor, and whether or not it is upheld in American schools. How does the definition compare with how you understand honor? Does your school have an “honor code”? Do people comply? Why do you think students cheat? Are there consequences for their behavior? If so, are they just?

3. In the PerSpectives section, Peter Benson talks about how every person, young or old, has their own unique “spark.” It is the feeling of inspiration inside us that calls out and makes us say, “I am…” or “I love to…” What are your sparks? Do you feel that you are able to express your spark? Have a conversation with someone in which both of you ask and answer Peter’s 6 questions:

1. What is your spark?
2. When and where do you express it?
3. Who knows your spark?
4. Who nourishes your spark?
5. What gets in your way?
6. How can I help?