the Jakarta Post, page 20
By: Setiono Sugiharto, teaches at the Faculty of Education and Language, Atma Jaya Catholic University, Jakarta
In an academic culture where students tend to maintain harmonious relationships with their peers, instilling in them a spirit of competitiveness can be beneficial for not only their intellectual talents, but also for their social and emotional maturity.
In the fast-changing world today, universities are beginning to strike a balance between their core curricula and co-curricular activities. Aside from activities included in their core curricula, a spirit of competitiveness is most often inculcated through co-curricular activities such as essay writing, public debates, singing contests and sports. Through such activities, students learn (individually or in a group) how to compete positively with other students in order to gain excellence and make accomplishments with a spirit of sportsmanship.
Students also learn that competition implies a continuous learning process and a strenuous and resilient effort, without which success is only a dream. Competition also means that students must be accountable for what they have done and lightheartedly accept the consequences of their actions.
It is worth mentioning here that efforts to inculcate a spirit of competitiveness need to embrace not only intellectual values manifested in the core curriculum, but also social, psychological, cultural and recreational values, which are all developed through co-curricular activities.
Yet, these efforts should by no means imply a mutual-exclusiveness of both the core-curriculum and co-curricular activities. Instead, the core curriculum and co-curricular are mutually-reinforcing, suggesting they are complementing each other.
Further, enhanced intellectual development as a result of students’ continuous participation in academic activities needs to be complemented with moral and spiritual growth – vital values that can be instilled through nonacademic activities.
In a competitive era, cultivating a spirit of competitiveness among students is obviously one of the most important agenda items for higher learning institutions. This implies that students must be given plenty of opportunities to explore their own world; to experiment with their own creativity, learning strategies and interaction with both their peers and teachers; and to negotiate schools’ programs imposed on them.