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How To Fix The Shortage of K-5 Scholastic Chess Facilitators 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the checking-the-checkmate dept.
theodp writes The good news, writes Michael Thomas, is that wired kids are learning chess at an unprecedented rate. Young children learning chess from tablets can quickly become more knowledgeable than their parents. But the bad news, laments Thomas, is there is so much demand for scholastic chess that there are not enough experienced chess facilitators to go around. Could technology like RFID-tagged chess pieces or services like ChessStream.com be employed to referee second-grader chess matches, Thomas wonders, or are more well-meaning-but-not-necessarily-expert human facilitators — a la T-ball coaches — the answer?
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How To Fix The Shortage of K-5 Scholastic Chess Facilitators

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  • by buckfeta2014 (3700011) on Sunday July 13, 2014 @11:34PM (#47446363)
    The issue is with schools cutting extra-curriculum activities, because the teachers want to get paid, and the schools can't afford it. Fix that somehow, and you'll probably get all the coaches you need, not just for chess club, but for sports and the arts.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Sunday July 13, 2014 @11:36PM (#47446371)

    I've had two kids now in youth chess and this article smacks of the "wrong direction" I think the youth chess movement is headed.

    The trends I saw included:
    #1) More PAID chess instructors. Er...for what? The best instruction...and players...are already online, with fully developed laddering, ranking, tutorials, etc.
    #2) More REMOTE tournaments. What is this...hockey now? This is a huge barrier to families (e.g., smart immigrants, kids with divorced parents) who can't afford to truck the two hours in each direction - and overnight (i.e., requiring a hotel) meets are on the horizon.
    #3) Life AFTER chess is discouraged. In my "gifted" experience, you learned chess in first or second grade, and could take down just about anyone in middle school, but then you moved on from games into programming, higher math, or something else with a lot of other people who outgrew chess as a daily or even weekly activity. However, "outgrowing chess" is no longer OK with this crowd...instead you're expected to keep playing until you ladder up or burn out - yikes.

  • by DamienRBlack (1165691) on Monday July 14, 2014 @01:20AM (#47446741)

    I am a full-time chess coach for K-5 kids. I have over 200 students that I see every week. At first I though this article was going to address the very real demand for more skilled coaches in K-5 schools. Instead, the article is trying to push a software/hardware solution that would make it "easier" to adjudicate games and tournaments. This solution is addressing a problem that doesn't actually exist.

    Here is the problem they present as an example: an 'argument' between two students about whether a position is checkmate. The presented solution: a variety of software/hardware that will make it easier to 'referee' the position. This is ridiculous. When two students are having an argument, figuring out whether there is checkmate on the board is usually the easiest problem to solve. Getting the students to calm down and be good sports is the hard part.

    In addition, there is no shortage of adjudication at tournaments. One or two coaches can easily handle the problems of 300+ students in a tournament. We don't need legions of people equipped with apps to go watch children's games. To make the article even more irrelevant, most tournaments across the world are run with a "non-interference" rule. This means that the tournament staff cannot actually comment on whether a position is checkmate. It is up to the students to come to a decision on their own, agree and report. The coaches with let them report an incorrect result if that is what they agree on. It is part of the game. So the coach doesn't actually need to know whether the position is really checkmate.

    The only time an actual ruling needs to be passed is if the students can't come to an agreement. This is very rare and will usually only happen 1 in 2000 games or so. We don't need to RDIF tag all of our 16000+ tournament pieces just so that 1 in 2000 games someone who knows nothing about chess can make an accurate ruling. We'll just bring over an expert in those cases.

    A quick aside to those questioning the benefits of K-5 chess, it is hugely beneficial to students. Sure, it would be great if they spent the time they did on chess on other things, like algorithms or biology. However, most students don't get super worked up about algorithms. They aren't going to willingly spend 15 hours a week on algorithms. They will happily spend that time on chess however, and chess is teaching them a lot of the same skills. Critical thinking, carefulness, perseverance, recovering from mistakes, cause and effect, and on, and on.

    The most important skill that students learn is how much effort you have to put into something in order to really become an expert. Nothing else a child does in their K-12 years really teaches them that in order to be an expert, you need to spend years and years working on it. Chess is very good at driving this point home.

    Anyone saying things like "every minute playing chess would be better spent learning about algorithms, computer programming, or biology." has clearly never sat a kindergartener down and try to teach them algorithms. Every day. For a year. Teach them chess. They will grasp it. They will want to learn. It is fun. They will gain skills that you wouldn't be able to impart in other ways.

    But you don't need to take my word on it. The benefits of chess have been have been well studied. Scholastic chess is one of the few things that has been proven to consistently increase academic performance, collage success and future income.

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