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march 2012

George School Alumni: Amanda Perez ’83, Lee Price ’61, and Melissa “Lissa” Merritt ’90

“T here is no getting around that the world today is a very competitive place, and we must give our children the tools and experience to handle it, compete, and hopefully succeed.”

“Competition does encourage growth and innovation, but sometimes you have to accept that you’re not going to win every time,” Lee says. “It’s important to treat competition within an accepted framework of ethical behavior … and George School does a good job of stressing the importance of winning in an ethical context.” Though competition has benefits, Melissa “Lissa” Merritt ’90, is grateful that George School provided an academic environment that, in her view, was mostly non-competitive. While not everyone has the same level of competitive spirit, she believes too much competition can have the negative effect of causing self-doubt, and the George School atmosphere nurtured confidence in her intellectual capabilities. These days, she draws from that educational foundation as she works in the extremely competitive academic field of philosophy. “I think the real danger of competition is that it accustoms people to comparing themselves to others,” says Lissa, a lecturer in the School of History and Philosophy at the University of New South Wales. “This is dangerous, both psychologically and morally. Too much competition makes a

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person lose touch with internal, self-driven forms of motivation—and without this, a person loses any real sense of oneself.” “The most important things to learn about competition have to do with not taking it too seriously,” adds Lissa, noting that she does not need competition as motivation to do her best work. “It is a very hard lesson to learn—and I don’t claim to have learned it yet—not to draw any kind of lessons about your worth as a person from how you fare in competition.” Even so, Amanda Perez adds, competition will always be a part of life, and it offers an opportunity for everyone to improve their performance in sports, career, or personal life. She believes it’s important to teach children how to cope with competition and to learn to embrace it. “I believe competition is a natural and important drive within all of us,” Amanda says. “There is no getting around that the world today is a very competitive place, and we must give our children the tools and experience to handle it, compete, and hopefully succeed.”

Georgian, March 2012  

The Georgian is the official publication of George School.