22 July, 2007


Ethnography is an qualitative educational research method developed by anthropologists, where culture is the central construct: it is literally the description of a social group. As a process, it is the science of cultural description and represents a dynamic ‘picture’ of the way of life of some interacting social group.

A famous anthropologist observed by way of analogy, “The last thing a fish will see is water’. What may seem remarkable to a visitor from another culture may seem matter of fact to the local person.

A caricature of an ethnographer is a middle-aged anglo-saxon sitting in front of their tent diligently writing in their notebook the events of the day.

Harry has been getting students to write about their chess experiences and has collected over 100 vignettes, when compiled are building a snapshot of what’s happening with the chess program, in ways that may not at first seem obvious.
Two stories below give a really rich, or ‘thick’ description about some of the ways our chess program is impacting on students.

It would be interesting to hear people’s comments about how they interpret different aspects of the comments below.

Grade 6-girl Age 11 years old, Chewton Primary School, Mt Alexander School Cluster, Central Victoria. Came running up to when I arrived to tutor at Chewton Primary School, and she was overjoyed and bursting to tell about her victory over her step dad

(In her own words).
I play chess at home with my step dad and we played for three hours like a footy game. I beat him! It was a long tough game. After I won my mum said you were beaten by an 11 year old girl and my stepdad said, “I want a re-match!!!” I think he was embarrassed. Chess teaches me to build strategy. When I played my step dad he like pretended he had a plan but he didn’t. So I was able to take his queen.
I like playing chess in school it is fun. It has made me think about what can happen if I make a wrong move and a right move. I think about where I am going to move and if I move there what will happen. I play chess with my brother and sister.

Grade 6-boy Age 12 years old, Chewton Primary School, Mt Alexander School Cluster, Central Victoria. Has a history of low performance and has started to shine with the advent of the chess program.

(In his own words)
I like to play chess. It is the best strategy game I have played. It is challenging playing Harry and my Dad. My Great Grand Dad was a good chess player. He died three months after I was born.
Chess has improved my mind in my football with the strategies with the ball. It has improved the way I work out how to tackle, and the position of people and things. I like to set up the footy team like a chess game when I am captain.
My Dad and I play chess a lot. We play about six games a week. He beats me all the time. That is annoying. I don’t play any other games except kicking the football. Chess and football are my main interests.
I like chess better than maths but chess is pretty much maths. Chess is maths with the points and strategies. Chess has improved my thinking skills in pretty much every way. My concentration has improved. With maths chess helped me a lot. My grades were down before I started playing chess and now they are a lot higher- puzzles, numbers.
When I lose I feel I need to get better. I think this person is better than me I had better train and get better. I set goals. My goal is to be one of the worlds best chess players. Chess is the best subject I do at school. Maths, science and sport are my other favourite subjects. I like chess better than computer games because computer games tell you what to do but chess doesn’t which makes it more challenging.


Ashlee said...

Chess is so cool and I love it and the kind person Harry teaches it to us. I just love chess and, look here I am a grade 3 and my name is Ashlee Maree Beckett.

Artichoke said...

I reckon the comments display learners with personal initiative, perseverance and adaptive skill. Key attributes for the development of self regulated learning strategies. As such the chess experiences that are helping kids develop the ability to regulate cognition, motivation, context and behaviour represent something special that deserves to be shared more widely. Is undoubtedly more effective and cheaper to resource than many e learning initiatives and interventions i am charged with promoting.

Still- Ashlee's comment captures the key value of this initiative better than mine - I love it and the kind person Harry teaches it to us

suspect Harry is as much the water as the game

Have you read Michio Kaku's writing about carp? - I too have been thinking about water over at artichoke - different context but when I think about it maybe not - chess as an alternative to school

Brianna Oliver said...

My name is Brianna Oliver, I am 9 and I am in grade three. When Mr Blackmore said Harry was coming to do chess I thought it would be really boring but when Harry came in and started teaching us I started to enjoy it and now I want Harry to come in every day. When I go around to Kezias place we are going to play lots of chess because we both love chess!!!!!!. I think Harry is has improved my chess skills. Harry has told us the value of the pieces are: King 0 , Queen 9, Rook 5 , Bishop 3 , Knight 3 and last but not least Pawn 1.

Kezia said...

My name is Kezia Kennard Age 8 Year 3
I think chess is a really fun game. But at first when Mr.Blackmore told as that Harry would be coming in I thought it would be boring but on the first day when Harry came in I just kept thinking that it would be boring but when Harry started to talk about chess I started to realised that I might like chess so I had one game against Ashlee and I started to realised that I actually liked chess!!!! So I kept playing chess with Ashlee until someone won and when someone won they would move up one and play someone in that part of the grid!!!! I am only in knight and Ashlee is to!!! Now I really like Chess and I always ask Harry if me and Ashlee can go on the computer and write these comments that we will print and put in the flat chat!!!! And when Brianna comes over we are going to play chess about 3 three times because we both love chess!!!! And now I now how much the pieces are worth the Queen is worth 9 points, the King is priceless points, and the bishop is worth 3 points, and the rook is worth 5 points, and the knight is worth and last but not least the pawn is worth only 1 point. And that is all I have to say for now!!!

The End

DENNI said...

Wizard IS THE LAST Column.
HARRY IS A Professional.
We play dungeons and dragons. I enjoy playing chess.BY DENNI grade 3, age 9.