Reintroduction Of Chess
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Dear Mrs. Kearney and Mrs. Bennett,
Attached is a petition to consider the reintroduction of chess into year 5 and 6 classes in Somerville House and to urge Somerville House to value chess as an important part of its curriculum.
The ongoing enrolment of new and existing students is significantly influenced by reputation and performance of the school and on the breadth of extracurricular activities offered. Parents, to date, have valued the incorporation of Chess into the curriculum. This is supported by the very high attendance of Prep and Year one students and parents to the Somerville House Chess tournaments throughout the year. Feedback from parents also confirm this. Parent and student satisfaction is an important factor in maintaining enrolments, which ultimately translates to financial sustainability of the school.
To date, Somerville House is considered to have had a strong performance and reputation in Chess. Somerville House is the leading QLD Girls School in Chess. Present or old Somerville House girls won all bar two of the awards at the 2015 QLD Women’s and Girls Chess Championships. In 2016, Somerville House students and a past student won all age group awards in the QLD Women’s and Girls Chess Championships. This would not have occurred without the passion of Mrs Connie Pizzato and support of the Somerville House community.
We have noticed a significant decline in students voluntarily participating in chess from grade 4 onwards. It will be difficult to maintain Somerville House’s impressive reputation and performance in Chess without the ongoing inclusion in the curriculum.
Other leading private (Anglican Church Grammar School) and public schools (such as Macgregor, Nundah, Morningside) have only just recently introduced or started to extend their curricular chess lessons. Somerville House has been a leader and shown great foresight to teach its Junior girls Chess as part of the curriculum for the past 20 years.
Aside from the reputation and performance of Somerville House, there has been extensive research suggesting numerous benefits of chess:
1) Improvement in mathematics and science performance.
This is likely to benefit Somerville House’s academic performance.
In countries where chess is offered widely in schools, students exhibit excellence in the ability to recognize complex patterns and consequently excel in maths and science.* Chess is part of the curriculum in nearly 30 countries.
2) Improvement in language skills.
3) In today’s world where value for the dollar is important, chess has been shown to be a cost-effective teaching tool. All you need is a teacher and a board or computer.
4) Chess motivates students to be willing problem solvers and to spend hours immersed in logical thinking.
There are multiple well-documented research publications that show chess can: raise IQ scores; strengthen problem-solving skills; enhance memory and concentration; improve reading and mathematical skills; foster critical, creative and original thinking; teach logical and sequential thinking; and demonstrate the importance of decision-making and consequences. #
Thank you for your careful consideration into our concerns. We look forward to hearing from you after your deliberations.
Parent Chess Support Committee
* In New Brunswick, Canada, chess is used to teach logic from grades 2-7 and by including chess in their curriculum, the average problem solving score has increased from 62% to 81%. The Province of Quebec, where the program was first introduced has the best math’s scores in Canada, and Canada consistently scores higher than the US on International math’s exams. The State of New Jersey has passed a bill (#S452) legitimizing chess as a unit of instruction, and chess receives funding under the “educate America Act” (Goals 2000) Public Law 103-227 Section 308.b.2.E.
In 2000, a landmark study by Smith and Cage found that students receiving chess instruction scored significantly higher on all measures of academic achievement, including maths, spatial analysis and non-verbal reasoning ability.
To obtain entry to prestigious Universities like – Stanford and Oxford, playing chess is looked upon favourably, as it promotes higher level thinking skills, problem solving and reasoning skills.
# In a 1992 New Brunswick, Canada, study using 437 fifth graders split into three groups, experimenting with the addition of chess to the math curriculum, Gaudreau found increased gains in math problem-solving and comprehension proportionate to the amount of chess in the curriculum (Ferguson, 1995, p. 11).
Another longer-term study in The New York City Schools Chess Program included more than 3,000 inner-city children in more than 100 public schools between 1986 and 1990. Based on academic and anecdotal records only, Palm (1990) states that the program has proven:
• Chess dramatically improves a child's ability to think rationally.
• Chess increases cognitive skills.
• Chess improves children's communication skills and aptitude in recognizing patterns, therefore:
• Chess results in higher grades, especially in English and Math studies.
• Chess builds a sense of team spirit while emphasizing the ability of the individual.
• Chess teaches the value of hard work, concentration and commitment.
• Chess instills in young players a sense of self-confidence and self-worth.
• Chess makes a child realize that he or she is responsible for his or her own actions and must accept their consequences.
• Chess teaches children to try their best to win, while accepting defeat with grace.
• Chess provides an intellectual, competitive forum through which children can assert hostility, i.e. "let off steam," in an acceptable way.
• Chess can become a child's most eagerly awaited school activity, dramatically improving attendance.
• Chess allows girls to compete with boys on a non-threatening, socially acceptable plane.
• Chess helps children make friends more easily because it provides an easy, safe forum for gathering and discussion.
• Chess allows students and teachers to view each other in a more sympathetic way.
• Chess, through competition, gives kids a palpable sign of their accomplishments.
• Chess provides children with a concrete, inexpensive and compelling way to rise above the deprivation and self-doubt which are so much a part of their lives (Palm, 1990, pp. 5-7).
A study, conducted by James Celone at the Foote School in New Haven, Connecticut, across 19 elementary schools, found a significant increase between pre-test and post-test scores in both intelligence and domain-specific problem-solving ability (Celone, 2001). This extends and confirms earlier work done in 1975 by Christiaen in Belgium.
PETITION: RE-INTRODUCE CHESS INTO CURRICULUM YR 5 & 6
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