09 September, 2007

Aberdeen CISCCON Report

It seems strange travelling halfway around the world, to participate in something related to your work, only to fly home again before you feel you can write about it. The whole Scotland thing was simply amazing: a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The night before the conference there was a dinner at The StageDoor Restaurant in Aberdeen.

The luck of the draw at the restaurant table seatings was interesting. The 3 aussies were surrounded by Chess Grandmasters with lots of banter about rankings, ratings and who the next big thing in chess would be. (It wont be an aussie).

Sam Grumont saved the night. I never thought I’d be so happy to hear his stories about China and America that I’ve heard a 100 times - but they were an absolute bloody lifesaver.

It seems the conference had two sub-cultures: the educators and the chess-elite. Educators can see the benefits of chess, while the chess-elite want chess in schools but don’t understand the subtleties to make that happen. So it was a fascinating mix filled with mutual respect and sharing of knowledge.

But the tide turned the morning of the conference, when conference organiser Dodd Forest informed us the Vice Chancellor of the University wanted to talk to us specifically about our project. It seems Aberdeen University prides itself on all things Innovative and Enterprising- words used in the description of our presentation.

When the conference started we felt back in our comfort zone.

Janet Shucksmith, from Teeside University, started the conference with her presenation about ethical issues involved with children and educational research.Ferdinand Gobet presented his research into brain studies and the chess player.

Susan Polgar, bought up as an experiment by her father to prove genius can be created, told her amazing life story, followed by Fritz Gaspard who co-ordinates the $4million Chess In The Schools Program in New york.

Day 2 saw Virginia Morrow, from University of London, kick things off with a presentation about Social Capital, that had elements of CSC’s Enterprise Education Project, and resonated big-time with Chess-Squared. After our presentation on Day 2, Virginia came up and said how excited she was schools in Australia were involved with building Social Capital.

The final presenation, and one of the most interesting was from Fernando Moreno (pictured with Steve Tobias), who uses chess as a tool for counselling and well-being. I’ll be doing a separate post exploring some of Fernandos work.
Apart from the conference itself, the hospitality was par excellence. It left you with a great endorsement for any country you visit: what a great place, and what great people.
It will be interesting to see what projects spin off from the conference. Informal conversations indicate people from Aberdeen Uni (Scotland), Belfast Uni (Ireland), Turin Univesity (Italy) and programs in America are interested in developing some sort of collaboration.

1 comment:

Rob Heller said...

Congratulations to Steve and the team at Castlemaine Secondary College - a fantastic initiative going onto the world stage. Building Social Capital way into the future. I trust that the connections made through this innovative project will echo for decades.

Rob Heller
Community Development Worker
Melbourne, Australia