Over 100 Chicago Public Schools are incorporating chess into the 2nd and 3rd grade curriculum at school to teach math, critical thinking, and a variety of other important skills. On Friday, January 23, 2015, a friend (a National Chess Expert) and I visited Andrew Carnegie Elementary School (ACES) and explored how Invest in Chess can benefit the children of this school.
Upon our arrival, we were each whisked away to one of the classes that was doing chess on Friday. I was told that the class I was going to was full of third grade students who had already been learning chess for a year. As I entered the class, I saw one teacher and over 20 kids, all sitting with chess boards between themselves. The initial plan was to simply observe and take a few notes on the program—that was not to be the case, as I soon found myself taking a leading role in the classroom, interacting with the kids, directing them, teaching them, and answering their questions. There were a few challenges we encountered, but I will not go into the details now.
After our time in the classroom, we met with the teacher of the room I was in, the coordinator of the chess program, and the principle to discuss what we noticed in the classroom. After our conversations, what we could to do to help became increasingly clear.
I believe that we can overcome these challenges. These kids need a mentor—someone who they can look up to, someone who has a solid, working knowledge of chess, someone who can make the game exciting for them, someone who can engage and inspire them. The principle and the other administrators we talked to are extremely open to help, change, and are excited to assist us in any way.
I come from this first visit to Carnegie inspired that we have the capacity to make a difference in the lives of these children. Some things need to change. And it begins with us.
We’ll be journaling our outreach on this blog; follow us to stay updated!