28 August, 2006

'A time to reflect.' by Leanne Preece


“Mrs Preece, ya wanna vs me?” challenged Conor, a delightful year seven student, while I observed a game of chess one lunchtime.

“If you can teach me how to play first”, I replied. Conor shrugged her shoulders and walked off to find a more challenging opponent.

And so it came to be that, once again, I found myself reflecting upon why I have never really wanted to learn to play chess before it became so popular at the Junior Campus of Castlemaine Secondary College.

It comes down to three things:
1. I once bought myself a terrific book on how to play the game of chess. I read the introduction,
“Chess is a game of war. You control one army, and your opponent, the enemy, controls the other, the fate of your army depends entirely on your own skill. Most other games rely on chance – a move may be determined by the role of a die, or the turn of a card. But in chess there is no such thing as luck” …………and got no further. I have always enjoyed playing other games; my opponents often accuse me of being lucky.

2. Before you make a move on a chess board you need to try and predict how your opponent will respond. In deciding what to play, you need to apply REASON, MEMORY, and LOGIC. Why would I want to use up my precious leisure time doing this, it sounds like hard work?

3. I get my energy from other people (yes call me an extrovert). The though of having to sit quietly, for what seems like an age is not really my style. I prefer to work in collaboration with others, hear their ideas and have mine discussed. Everyone is so quiet when they are concentrating on their game.

And so you see, Conor chose wisely when she sought another opponent. Is there anyone out there who would be patient enough to teach me how to play and play to WIN?

Leanne Preece
Junior Campus Principal - Castlemaine Secondary College

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chess has to be played with pleasure.
-- Lubomir Kavalek, in a 1978 'Chess Life' interview

Harry said...

Yes, Leeanne is right chess isn’t everyone’s game and people with a love of verbal communication might find chess a little unattractive. Leeane raised a key point which I think touches on precisely why chess is such a marvellous pedagogical tool. Leeanne said,

“Before you make a move on a chess board you need to try and predict how your opponent will respond. In deciding what to play, you need to apply REASON, MEMORY, and LOGIC. Why would I want to use up my precious leisure time doing this, it sounds like hard work?”

This is the essence of the matter as Leeanne alludes thinking is hard graft and we know a lot of kids out there find it boring, stressful and unpleasant, and experience frustration when attempting even moderately difficult intellectual tasks.
Here we have, in chess, an intellectually rigorous mind sport that teaches kids thinking is fun. This is clearly happening both in the primary schools and junior campus. Any one who attends the primary schools chess program has been impressed by the kids enthusiasm, engagement levels, concentration and pleasure in an intellectual pursuit. For the first time in their lives many students are learning THINKING IS FUN.
Regards Harry

Harry said...

We increasingly live in the global village and our students in the Mt Alexander school Cluster will need to develop the tolerance, wisdom and skills to negotiate this emerging and challenging landscape if they are to excel in life and business.

Chess is an international language and rouses tremendous interest abroad and increasingly in Australia.
Our whole lives are centred around relating to eachother in spontaneous exchanges.We human beings are a noisy bunch. Chess is one of the few disciplines that students engage in of their own free will that demands of them constant focus and concentration and helps to develop these skills which are so essential to all learning.
The really good news is that they choose to undertake such a rigorous and demanding discipline in their spare time and even go home and study chess.
They actually leave the classroom, and on their own lunch break, come to study and play chess, often choosing it over footy and other recreational activities including films.

By linking our chess program to schools in Asia, Great Britain and America through ICT we can develop tournament play, project work encouraging students to develop relationships with students within a global context via ICT, and cross cultural learning.

We are committed to building a professional chess program with a solid pedagogical foundation.In the chess club you can hear the silence and see the students deeply engrossed in itellectual contemplation.
This is a splendid sight to behold.