People who are competitive by nature strive harder to do their best when competing against others. Competitive people want to be the best, and therefore it makes them work harder to learn the materials to demonstrate that they have a superior mastery of the content or skills when compared to their peers.
Yes, I believe competition helps people learn because I also believe that everyone has a certain amount of competitiveness in them. Wanting to be the best at something or better than peers can be motivation when simply learning to learn is not. Competition also helps prepare kids for the situations they will face as adults.
People learn from life experiences of all types. Competitions of different types represent potentially educational life experiences. The reality is that a great deal is learned from both prevailing and not succeeding in a competitive environment. Moreover, the act of participating in competitive activities is also an educational experience in and of itself.
There are many valuable lessons to be learned from healthy competition. People learn how to maintain focus under pressure. They also learn how to be a good winner and loser. Competitors also learn to value the discipline and hard work required to become competition ready. Finally, people learn that effort and motivation, when properly channeled, is rewarded through success.