29 May, 2006

Dont look now......but we're getting bigger

Hi Steve, Sam and everyone,
Now that the 'Chess in Schools' program is going international with a sister school linking up with us in Japan, ICT is more important than ever.One thing I have not pushed as much as I would have liked thus far are the free chess websites. Here are some great URLs:
and check out ChessDryad.com. All these sites are worth a look at and they wont cost kids anything to use.
Regards Harry

18 May, 2006

Courtesy of Peter Roberts.

"Chess and theatre often lead to madness."
Arrabal, Sur Fischer, 1974

Peter Roberts seems to be everywhere at once. He teaches drama, co-ordinates publicity for Castlemaine Secondary College, and is close to being the best teacher I've ever come across. I've seen him do things and often wondered 'How does he do that??'.
Then one day he confessed, with a wink and a nod: "I play a bit of chess". And it all made sense.
Thanks for the 'toon Pete.

Continue to hear great reports about tutoring program in the Mt. Alexander cluster primary schools. If you've come this far and you're reading this please add a comment below. This week I've added some quotes about chess to mull over in a quiet moment.

"Chess is so inspiring that I do not believe a good player is capable of having an evil thought during the game."
Wilhelm Steinitz, interview with J. Moquette, 1896

"Dazzling combinations are for the many, shifting wood is for the few."
Georg Kieninger, Deutsche Schachhefte, 1950

"Nowadays, when you're not a grandmaster at 14, you can forget about it." Anand Viswanathan

"A computer beat me in chess, but it was no match when it came to kickboxing"Signature of an anonymous message board user.

"My life has been determined by the move e2-e1N."
Johan Barendregt, interview with Max Pam, 1972

Weaknesses of character are normally shown in a game of chess. Gary Kasparov

A good sacrifice is one that is not necessarily sound but leaves your opponent dazed and confused.
Rudolph Spielmann

Chess is the art which expresses the science of logic

Mikhail Botvinnik

Chess is a fight Emanuel Lasker

Chess is the art of analysis Mikhail Botvinnik

13 May, 2006

Interview with Ross Allengame: Castlemaine Primary School

Ross Allengame has been using chess in the classroom for twenty years.

He has produced a state chess champion and several really gifted players. I can recall one of Ross’s year 5 pupil’s entering the Castlemaine Chess Club 10 years ago, and trouncing all of us, and dazzling us with his acumen over the board.

Ross regularly uses chess as a part of his teaching repertoire. Sometimes he sets up a few boards and plays some students simultaneously while the rest of the class looks, on engrossed in the games, and offering suggestions.

During the tutorial I gave to Ross’s class, before the interview, his students were totally engrossed in their games, and they played for nearly an hour and a half. Some students played three games in a row and were biting at the bit for a fourth game. I have never witnessed such a high level of sustained concentration, enthusiasm and pleasure shown in a class activity before. The students discussed the moves with each other and were intellectually engaged with their games for the greater part of the lesson.

I asked Ross why he uses chess in his classes. I was searching for some pedagogical insight as I had already gleaned that Ross was interested in learning theory.

Ross waved his hand and said, “Look around you.” He spoke of their fascination with the game and their sustained interest and then went onto say, “Chess works!”

After the lesson, Ross and I discussed teaching theory. Ross said his approach was to ask the kids what they want to do and empower them. He sees his approach as vastly different from what he called the jug mug method of pouring content down kid’s throats.

He sees teaching at its best when teachers become facilitators of education and inspire students to become independent learners. Ross believes chess helps develop this spirit in young students and this is why he has been such a keen advocate and practitioner of chess in the classroom.

One more word on the virtues of chess and I think an opinion that is supported by all the research. Ross had a difficult student once who had behavioral problems and was disorganized. One of Ross’s solutions was to introduce him to chess. Ross reports it had miraculous results. The boy turned into a fine chess player. Ross says it gave the boy a sense of control and a chance to beat the teacher. The key message Ross conveyed in our discussion was that chess motivated students, improved their concentration, and stimulated intellectual activity.

Just as I was leaving South School two year 6 boys walked up to me and said they were glad I was coming back next week and added, ‘We like chess, it is fun, and it makes us think’.

Harry Poulton

04 May, 2006

CJ drops in.

It’s a big world out there. We’ve had interest from schools in Bendigo, Colac and Warrnambool about our chess program.

Andrew Grimshaw, from Colac, used some of our resources and convinced his curriculum 'powers-to-be' to formally incorporate chess into their program. Andrew has a timetabled class called chess where students leave regular classes to participate. Well done, Andrew.

I noticed a comment on one of our blog entries (see below) from CJ telling us of a search engine, Technorati, to find other blogs throughout the world on similar topics. Thought CJ was one of our cluster teachers but on investigation found that not to be the case.

I checked it out and found 49 responses to ‘chess and pedagogy’. Try clicking on Technorati, type and your special interest, and see what other like-minded souls are talking about in cyber-space.

CJ also recommended I look at Artichokes blog….and what a fascinating experience that was! Artichoke (from New Zealand it appears) seems at the cutting edge of all things education and has plenty of views he has ‘put out there’.

On the local scene, tutoring started this week, and early feedback has been fantastic. I sense momentum is building. If you haven’t heard from us, expect a phone call shortly confirming dates and times for our tutors to visit.

And while we’re handing out boquets, special mention to Marg Lewis who, out of 25 emails, was the only person to notice the tutoring schedule ran into the school holidays. Thanks Marg. Marg is principal of Yapeen Primary School who, with 17 students, is one of the smallest schools in the state. Re-assuring such an eye for detail is in there batting for government education. Nice pic and story in last weeks Castlemaine Mail.
And CJ……whoever…wherever .. you are: thanks!

Steve Carroll