Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Speak Your MindRelative worth: The perils and promise of comparison

Relative worth: The perils and promise of comparison

People frequently engage in the act of comparing themselves to others. It serves as a form of self-validation, allowing us to evaluate our self-worth and achievements in relation to those around us. Some individuals prefer to compare themselves exclusively to their peers, individuals they perceive to have similar qualities or accomplishments.

On the other hand, some people choose to compare themselves to those who are vastly different from them in various aspects. To a certain extent, this practice of self-comparison offers its own advantages.

By observing others and assessing our own position relative to theirs, we gain insight that can drive personal growth. Without this perspective, there is a risk of stagnation, of becoming trapped in the status quo. Particularly when we look up to individuals whom we consider “better” than ourselves in objective terms, we set higher standards and find motivation to become an improved version of who we are.

However, constantly comparing ourselves to others can also have a detrimental effect, leading to feelings of inferiority and worthlessness. Ultimately, it is impossible to replicate the exact experiences and accomplishments of others.

Recently, while tuning in to a radio program that delves into psychological matters with its listeners, I came across a man who shared his perpetual sense of worthlessness arising from his incessant comparisons of his life and career achievements with those of others. Consequently, he found himself trapped in a state of depression.

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Seeking advice from a psychologist, he inquired about strategies to overcome this downward spiral. The psychologist explained that comparing oneself to others is a natural inclination shared by all humans, but excessive indulgence in this behavior can lead to depression.

One particular remark made during the show caught my attention, highlighting the Ethiopian education system’s practice of ranking students based on their grades within a particular schooling period. This discussion resonated with a belief I have long held: the need to steer clear of such a comparative system in schools.

I have always maintained that it is unfair to constantly measure students against their peers and determine their worth solely in relation to others. There are several aspects of this grading system that I find problematic.

First and foremost, this system assumes that all students are identical simply because they receive the same education as their classmates. However, it disregards the fact that individuals possess unique abilities and learning capacities. Although they may attend the same class and have the same teacher, their aptitude for absorbing school lessons varies. Some are naturally quick learners, while others require more time and effort to grasp the material. Therefore, treating them as equals based solely on their shared educational environment is flawed.

Secondly, this ranking system fosters a negative sense of competition among students. In other words, it cultivates an environment where one student wishes ill upon others, desiring their peers to score lower grades so that they can secure a higher rank in the class. This unhealthy dynamic leads students to harbor negative intentions towards others. Consequently, the focus shifts from collaborative learning and personal growth to an unhealthy desire for superiority over classmates.

Lastly, students should have the opportunity to compare their progress with their own past achievements. Only through such self-reflection can they truly appreciate their personal growth and feel motivated to achieve even greater success in the future. By shifting the emphasis away from external comparisons to internal benchmarks, students can develop a sense of individual progress and strive towards their own potential.

As we embark on the journey to revitalize our failing education system, I fervently hope that the current practice of ranking students in classrooms is abolished. This change would enable students to focus on their own unique abilities rather than fixating on others, allowing them to make meaningful and attainable advancements in their academic pursuits.

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Video from Enat Bank Youtube Channel.

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