“Our world is built
on competition,” the teacher says.
We listen closely,
each trying to sit up straighter 
and look more engaged than those next to us.

“Cooperation is more effective 
than competition,” the teacher says.
We nod in understanding 
as we fight to be the closest to the front,
to hear and understand the lessons the best.

“Now what have we learned?”
the teacher asks,
then watches as we all scramble
to give the loudest, best, most detailed answer.
Talking over one another,
pushing and shoving with our words
it all swirls into a cacophony 
from which one answer rings loud and clear-