During primary, secondary, and CÉGEP, mathematics is pretty similar in its style. Essentially, the idea is to give students the tools and skills necessary to be able to solve various problems (both in pure mathematics and applications such as physics or chemistry). There is a large focus on formulas and strategies to solve problems.
When I was in secondary two, my mathematics teacher asked if my class if anyone wanted to participate in a mathematics competition outside of class. A few people volunteered, but I did not. I suppose at the time I might have been a bit self-conscious about participating in an activity that seemed like it wouldn’t be a popular thing to tell people you do. (Of course, I wouldn’t mind telling someone that I did that right now.)
Throughout all my years in school, competition is rampant among students. It’s not always against other students, but often times it is. The reality is that students are always trying to get amazing grades, and this can be made worse in systems like CÉGEP where the grades of your peers are taken into account to give you your “global” grade. This is a problem, because it encourages you to be good in school while simultaneously hoping that your peers don’t do as well. I won’t lie: I’ve thought and said this before, because it is the way that you can get your best grade. Unfortunately, it’s also a terrible way to encourage learning among students.