<< Though such sorts
of competitions do exist, they are fairly infrequent relative to schools
where kids are all kept with others of the same age; and they serve to
_complement_ friendships and play a part in those friendships -- not to
form relationships. >>
Yes! One of my first observations at Highland of the kids, who all came that
first year from traditional schooling, was that they seemed excessively
negatively competitive at computer games, for example. ("You stink at
that!") One of the delights was watching them give up that stance in favor
of voluntary competition leavened with lots of support and cooperation.
I also agree completely with your distinction that at democratic schools the
competition is freely entered into and not sponsored by the school, the
staff, or anyone else but the participants themselves.