Promote chess in schools
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I read the article on 'Chess being considered for social intervention'. Immediately, I became excited about the prospects of it being a reality. I was almost as excited as when I was planning to introduce chess as part of the curriculum at Camperdown High School.
The expected outcomes at that time were to help students to:
- Learn the art of being silent for prolonged periods.
- Increase their ability to concentrate for an extended period.
- Appreciate the other person's decision if it is not the same as yours.
- Use mental tools to solve problems.
- Compete in an atmosphere of calm.
In addition, we would involve the surrounding community by teaching the residents chess, using the large pieces that can be used on the ground.
I am sure you can find research to justify the implementation of this project, but I would love to add my testimonial.
With the help of a past student as the first teacher and the alumni at home and abroad, we secured some chess sets. We had Maurice Ashley come and do a demonstration for the students and the community. We got the large pieces made after I saw them at a hotel and found out the source and purchased them. Every first-form student learnt chess because it was timetabled, just as mathematics and other subjects.
I later attended the meetings of the Chess Federation about chess in schools. I then encouraged several of my colleagues to start the programme, which they did. We never got the community part started although we had meetings with them and they were eager. The funding for a teacher never materialised and all the volunteers were too busy.
Did we achieve all that we had hoped for among the students? I will just mention one incident. Each year, we had a tournament among the students. I visited one session. There were about 40 students playing chess. I asked, "Where are the girls? This is a co-educational institution?" The response was, "Dem mek too much noise, Miss." I left feeling that we had achieved all our objectives.
I wish this project well. I implore those involved to try as much as you can to sell the programme and the objectives to all the stakeholders. It is a difficult sell. Many will say it is a waste of money, but they will see the benefits in the end.
CYNTHIA P. COOKE