What Do You Get When You Combine Cooperation And Competition?

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What is “coopertition”? It’s a combination of cooperation and competition, and it is the guiding spirit behind an intriguing educational program created by inventor Dean Kamen and hosted by the school of engineering at Arizona State University. The program “puts the budding engineering and science skills of teams of middle-school-age students to the test in problem-solving competitions using Lego robotics kits,” according to ASU:

“Top-performing teams at regional tournaments get to go to state championship tournaments. But they must do more than demonstrate proficiency at applying basic technical know-how. They’re also judged on how well they exemplify the program’s core values of teamwork, respect for fellow competitors, a spirit of friendship and sharing, and an emphasis on the joy of learning and discovery rather than on collecting winners’ trophies.” (Read more here.)

It strikes me that so much of what’s useful and productive in adult life comes of some combination of cooperation and competition. The two don’t have to be opposed, but can work together if managed right. Giving kids a chance to practice the skill of working with others, but also trying to come up with the best solution, seems like a great idea. So much so that I can even forgive the clumsy neologism of “coopertition.” (Any suggestions for alternatives out there?)

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One Response to “What Do You Get When You Combine Cooperation And Competition?”

  1. I like the idea of creative conflict, and it strikes me as almost necessary for innovative output. Creativity theory often refers to creative tension, using the metaphor of jazz music, where two jazz musicians riff off of each other, competing and collaborating simultaneously.
    Another take on this is the notion of “cognitive confrontation:


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