Dean Kamen’s vision for FIRST is simple to state:
To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes.
Simple to state, but not nearly so simple to achieve.
The FIRST organization have chosen to use the sports model as the basis of their programs, as shown in the image to the right. Of course, many of the most celebrated people today are athletes, and much of the K12 experience here in the US revolves around athletics.
If you heard his kickoff speech for this year’s game, though, you know that Dean is becoming frustrated with how this model is working out, with the focus for many individuals and teams becoming the winning, not the competition itself. Or, in the terminology of the folks at TrueCompetition.org, these teams have moved from competition into decompetition.
In some ways, this is an inevitable evolution, the nature of professional sports (which, in my mind, includes college sports) in which the intrinsic motivation of young athletes with a love of the game transforms into the extrinsic motivation of the rewards of victory.
What do you think? Is the sports model getting out of hand and need to be changed? Or does it just need to be “tweaked” a bit.