Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Australian Primary Principals Association - Say No to Chess in Schools
This is a rather interesting article: From The Age.com/au Chess at school a shrewd but contested move Farrah TomazinAugust 13, 2007 VICTORIAN students would be offered chess coaching to boost their thinking skills under an idea being pushed from within senior State Government ranks. Evan Thornley, Premier John Brumby's parliamentary secretary for national reform and innovation, wants the Government to provide more chess programs across the public school system. According to the former businessman, the move would give students the chance to compete on "a pretty level playing field" against private schools or other students from wealthier backgrounds. But while chess coaches praised the idea, others in education circles raised concerns it would clutter an already over-crowded school curriculum. Mr Thornley declined to comment yesterday. In a recent speech to Parliament, he said the benefits were twofold: children would learn to think more strategically and build their self-esteem, while recent immigrants from Russia or Eastern Europe, where chess is a popular sport, could be offered work as coaches. "The game of chess is a terrific way for young people to learn skills of strategy, logic, planning and other important intellectual disciplines in a fun, friendly and mildly competitive environment," Mr Thornley said. "It is a great way for many young people to build their self-esteem, because they quickly become capable of beating all the adults in the room … which is not something they can often achieve in many other fields until later in life." Some schools, such as Doncaster Gardens Primary School, MacRobertson Girls High School, Flemington Primary School and Brighton Grammar School, already offer chess programs to students. Some schools provide one-hour classes, while others offer a recreational activity outside classroom hours. David Cordover, director of ChessKids, which offers coaching services to 430 public and private schools in Victoria, said even kindergarten children were getting lessons. Mr Cordover said "it would go a long way" if the Government provided more resources for chess coaching right across the education system. But Victorian Principals Association president Fred Ackerman said the school curriculum was already too crowded with "add-on" subjects. A recent paper by the Australian Primary Principals Association called for making English, maths, science and history the only four "core" subjects in schools, with other subjects and programs to be given less status.