For the seventh dimension of the synergetic classroom, Charles coined a term: coopetition, which means “cooperating to compete” (95).


The roots of coopetition are cooperation and competition. Charles argues that cooperation and competition pose benefits and drawbacks to educators and students (99): 





  • Enjoyment
  • Divergence of ideas
  • Distribution of work load
  • Better overall work product
  • Learning to work together
  • Uneven work burden
  • Lack of personal responsibility
  • Lack of initiative 
  • Self-direction
  • Independent thinking
  • Responsibility
  • Efficiency 
  • Isolation
  • Demoralization from not winning
  • Lying and cheating to defend performance


Coopetition, on the other hand, combines the benefits of cooperation and competition, while minimizing their drawbacks. Because students join cooperatively to compete as groups, not as individuals, most students engaged in coopetition gain (99):



Appropriate use of coopetition

Coopetition is best applied in classroom activities (from 4th grade and up) that require excellence and high achievement. Charles recommends that groups be (102):


  • Composed of five to six students
  • Equalized in terms of ability
  • Changed from time to time to equalize composition


Opportunities for using coopetition include (101-3):



Inappropriate use of coopetition

Coopetition is appropriate beginning in fourth grade. Charles warns that many younger children are too egocentric and engaged in concrete thinking to understand or implement the complex intrapersonal processes of competition and cooperation. When working in groups, younger children tend to be dominated by the group member with the most ability, who may take over the project. When competing, younger children tend to focus only on quickly finishing the work, showing little regard for the quality of the finished product (104).


Just as coopetition is not appropriate for all students, it is not suitable for all learning situations. Avoid coopetition when (100-1):


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