Saturday, 3 December 2011

Choose your children's school carefully

A news story in the Sydney Morning Herald has the potential to leave a number of people with red faces. It concerns the Willathgamuwa brothers, Rowan and Kevin, who represented Australia at the recent World Youth Championships in Brazil. As a consequence of their absence from school, Sydney Grammar, they have been asked to look elsewhere for their education next year.
Although I have directed a number of tournaments that the Willathgamua brothers have played in, I have no real knowledge of the issues involved in this decision. At best I can compare what appears to be the case with the attitude my children's school has towards their chessplayers.
In my case, my son Harry is off to Adelaide to play in the Australian Junior Masters next week. As this involved him missing 3 days of school I made sure I asked his teacher before he was able to accept his invitation. Not only was the teacher OK with him missing the 3 days, he congratulated Harry on being invited to the tournament. Of course the school my kids go to 'walks the walk' where chess is concerned, as they have chess on the curriculum for 3rd, 4th and 4th grades, as well as offering it as an elective for years 6 & 7.
But the best bit about this, at least as far as I'm concerned, is that my kids did not have to go on long waiting lists, or go through a testing or interview process to get into this school. That it is because it is the local government school, less than 300 metres from my house. So at least for my family, the local school was the 'right' school for us, not only for chess, but also for the overall quality of education. .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I suspect your story could be indicative of a generic state/private divide on attitude to chess but it might be only the 'traditional' private schools that are as obsessive as Sydney Grammar. Or maybe it is just a particular principal who sets the tone for the school.
Many years ago Australia's (then) best young players Angela and Raymond Song went to Chatswood Primary and the school supported their chess a lot, even raising money for the school team m to go to the Australian Schools Final.
Then the parents moved Raymond to Sydney Grammar for year 6 and he got only obstruction with his chess. It was the same principal as now. Raymond moved to a more supportive private school (Knox) after one year at Sydney Grammar and had no problems there.