All the educational paradigms can be roughly subdivided into the ones that presuppose competition among the students and the ones that propose mutual support. These two ideas are, naturally, opposed to each other, for they differ even in the idea of necessary manning of an average class. Competitive methods suggest that all the members of the class should be of more or less the same intellectual level, proficiency in disciplines and so on. Mutual support system believes that every class should be compiled of students belonging to all levels, with clever students helping the less promising ones to progress and so on. Which of them is correct?
The fact is, it always seemed so obvious for me that I never managed to understand how anybody may believe in the latter idea at all. If we have one slow-witted student in a class, no matter how many geniuses there are apart from him – all of them will have to slow down and wait until the material they got after the first explanation is stuffed into his head. But in this case they at least can ignore him. If there is one clever student and a wide range of others, the study becomes a torture for him. Mutual support? I guarantee that he will hate all those who make him slow down.
The only way to make it sure the students progress quickly and smoothly is to make it possible for them to compete. When there is a constant danger of somebody becoming better than you, you have to hone your skills incessantly. When you don’t have to make any efforts to be better than all the rest – what is the motivation for studying further?