29 May, 2007

Meeting the tutors(3): Greg Smith

My name is Greg Smith and I’m a chess tutor. Thanks Harry and Steve for asking me to join the team.

Unlike Harry I came late to Chess. I played a few games as a child and luckily remembered the moves when I first attended the Castlemaine Chess Club. There I enjoyed the company, wisdom, humour and coaching of the astute.

I became a father in 2002 (I now have a boy and a girl) and a teacher in 2003. I had taught SOSE, ICT and Art, previously to tackling Chess. The student’s enthusiasm and engagement with chess overwhelmed me. Truly amazing! Chess works.

I distinctly remember a point when 30 children all pondered studiously silent, each brain computing at the speed of light. This despite my preferred method of encouraging banter, conversation and discussion. I have derived happiness reaffirming that children enjoy thinking.

I have been privileged to attend 5 schools in Mt Alexander Shire and I enjoy the diverse challenges available. All teachers have been warm and supportive and speak of positive results. Large, small and mixed age classes all require different approaches. I am often asked about gender bias and I haven’t observed any. Students love to count up the pieces. Whether it is shown that chess improves maths or not I remain convinced that chess in schools, particularly at upper Primary level, is eminently beneficial.

Harry sums up chess so perfectly I will simply quote him here.
“Research, experience and observation have led me to believe that chess is an excellent pedagogical tool which improves concentration, impulse control and accountability, cultivates good sportspersonship and social interaction.”

With chess, a novice can play an experienced player, beautifully expressed by an Indian proverb, "Chess is a lake in which a gnat may sip and an elephant may bathe."

(Meet our other tutors here and here- scroll down a bit!


Harry said...

Schools in India are rising to the challenge of innovative education. One school I recently read about in India believes in children exploring the world of knowledge by way of keen observation and understanding, rather than by rote learning. Even the "Play School" children are not exempted from this.

Teaching through activities is the regular teaching methodology and teachers are trained to follow this pattern of teaching. They believe this kind of education tunes young minds towards the spirit of integrity and harmony. The school board is in no doubt that the school lays a concrete foundation for students to become self reliant and confident in the future.

Another Indian school boasts of its Computer and Science Laboratories where children are encouraged to experiment. There is adequate infrastructure available for both indoor and outdoor games such as table tennis, chess, cricket, hockey, football and basket ball. Yoga and Karate are taught to the students. It is amazing how rich school curriculum is becoming these days in order to stay in the education market place.
Parents seem to universally give chess a whole hearted thumbs up and believe in its efficacy to impart valuable skills to their kids. The other day a little boy came to me in class and told me his parents were really pleased that I have come to teach him chess. Even though they may not have a great acquaintance with the game they see it as something with intrinsic value. This is wonderful and I believe chess delivers on its promises.

Anonymous said...

Hi guys,
My name is Jodi. I am an avid chess player and promoter of women's chess, and I have become infatuated by this blog. Well done to Steve and Harry and Sam for all they have done for chess but I could not help been a little peeved when I read somewhere on this blog that boys won more scholarships than girls last year, twice as many to be exact. How do they explain it when in every other field of learning girls do better than the boys?
We hear a lot about improving women's rights and status in society. Well, what about the world of chess where we have all these female grandmasters who doll themselves up like models or sex symbols, and web sites promoting the sexist objectification of women chess players. Commentators seemed to be more interested in their fashion statements than how well they play the French Defence or the Fritz Lange attack! It is 2007 not the 1950s!!!
Thanks to Steve and the boys for the chance this blog has given me to have a voice in the world of chess!
Check mate and Bye, Jodi Cosgraves

Anonymous said...

Gee you're young to be a chess teacher! Who's the old guy with the grey hair?

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous, thanks for noticing my little enduring hair! Yes, my son Hamish enjoys chess and teaches me a few tricky moves now and then. Greg.