How a kid-sized chess game can change a life – Chicago Tribune

Mary Schmich’s column on the chess program that Jerry Neugarten and the Chicago Chess Foundation are making to get kids involved with chess — especially kids from impoverished homes — is heartening news, and I applaud their efforts. I speak from first-hand experience when I say that perseverance will be key to the ongoing success of their efforts.

Back in 2006 when I was working at George Rogers Clark Elementary School, a very small Chicago public school serving “The Island,” a little-known working-class Chicago neighborhood, my fellow teacher, Ferne Pacilio, and I developed an elaborate, full-blown semester-long chess program involving kindergartners through eighth-graders, funded by an Oppenheimer grant and our own funds. This program included many dimensions and components, integrating and incorporating lessons in language arts, math, medieval history, science and art. We even built a giant kid-scale chess board so the kids could “act out” the game acting as chess pieces. The entire school was swept up by the energy generated as kids discovered the joys of chess and developed an understanding of the ripples and connections with all the related subjects that made this program that much richer.

Sadly, while the program was phenomenally successful in all the ways that Schmich mentions in her column, we were unable to generate the support we needed in order to make our program an ongoing part of the curriculum. As hard as we tried to engender support or interest from Chicago Public Schools or some outside organization, no one seemed to care. If there was an Office of Teaching and Learning at CPS at that time, no one mentioned its existence to teachers like us.

I truly hope that the Chicago Chess Foundation will succeed in its efforts to sustain and expand its program into many more schools. And I encourage the foundation to relate and integrate as many academic subjects as it can into the chess program.

How a kid-sized chess game can change a life – Chicago Tribune

Leave a Reply

Photo Gallery

Log in | Designed by Buy Websites