Friday 23 May 2014

Chess in (a) School

I spotted a couple of articles recently talking about making chess a compulsory subject in school (in the most recent case, the U.K.). Those supporting the push point to Armenia as a country that does have chess in the school curriculum, and the chess success that Armenia has had on the world stage. Of course such a proposal is often a hard sell, as schools do look for more than just having a really strong chess team, but it is possible.
Amaroo School in Canberra is a school that does have chess as part of the normal class room teaching. It is taught to 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classes and takes advantage of the fact that teachers get 2 hours of PD (personal development) time a week. As there are 2 hours a week where classes require a substitute teacher, the school decided to use one of those hours to teach chess. There is a full time teacher who runs the program, and there is a dedicated chess classroom where the lessons are taught. As it is part of the wider curriculum, the lessons cover a number of things, not just how to checkmate your opponent. Students produce posters about chess, look at the history of the players and the game, and solve chess related maths problems. The program is very popular, so much so that elective classes for the older students (6th grade and up), fill up very quickly.
There are a couple of other schools in Canberra who have similar programs, and hopefully it will expand, either by word of mouth, or possibly with support of the Education Department.

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