Italian Aces train teachers to castle!
Wednesday, 12 November 2014 00:00
alfierebiancoDid the headline grab your attention? We hope so, because Alessandro Dominici's report is an important one. Here it is:

During 2014 (from January to September) a project for the training of school teachers, on "Chess in Schools" activities, through the National Sports Promotion Body MSP - Italia and with the collaboration of the Italian Chess Federation has been successfully carried out.

There were 15 courses, covering almost all of Italy, with the participation of 700 teachers. Chess materials were provided for free to all participating schools, allowing them to start their chess in school activities during the school year 2014/2015 with at least 10,000 students involved. You can see a video about this project here (in italian):

Before this important project, however, many teachers involved in the "European City of Sport" project had already received the same kind of encouragement, through the project "CIS Towns" that FIDE and ACES Europe initiated, piloting it in Italy, already in 2013. You can see a video on this project here, put on you tube by Pavia Municipality – European Towns of Sports (in Italian):

Finally, as in any good children's story, came the news that the EU, through Erasmus+, wanted to reward "Chess in Schools" by giving a three-year fund of250,000 through its Italian agency. This project also involves Spain and Germany, and may constitute a new model for the inclusion of chess in schools, considering the development that it could have, thanks to the joint work….

The chess teaching protocols in all three projects are aimed at primary school, and provide for the use of psychomotricity on a giant chess board, chess on a desk and via the WEB (Victor’s Chess House).

Read More about the CASTLE project – ERASMUS +

The C.A.S.T.L.E. project: a Chess curriculum to Advance Students´ Thinking and Learning skills in primary Education (this acronym reminds us of the castling move) was born from the idea of creating a strong partnership in the field of chess in school, under the influence of three partners with extensive experience in this: “Alfiere Bianco” in Italy, “Deutsche Schulschachstiftung” (German Foundation Chess in Schools) in Germany, “Club Ajedrez 64 Villalba” in Spain. Our common thought is that chess in school should encourage the growth of individuals, involving the peculiar abilities of human nature: understanding of the laws of cause and effect, the ability to choose and interpret relationships, developing  abilities like self-determination and accountability.

This is what we want to teach children through chess, making them understand that to continue along the chosen path in life constructively, you always need some help, because the human being is organized in a collective society.

logo reale mutuaThe game is a training for life, in which one learns to face difficulties, defeats and even successes and victories: understanding their processes helps to develop critical thinking, patience, acceptance of defeat, determination and the ability of a strategic approach, essential skills to deal with the actions that you perform every day, in a world like a big chessboard, made of “black nights and white days” (Jorge L. Borges).

The work of chess instructors,  introduced into the schools as external experts, is still an important mode in the world (the main one in many countries) for starting-up  "Chess in Schools" projects, especially if we leave out those countries where the Education Ministry has launched a training program for teachers and chess has entered the educational system, introduced as a subject by the schoolteachers. 

The current model, however, has several gaps, not from a technical point of view, but from that of continuity over the years, with poor results in terms of learning and education of pupils.

Another point is that the pedagogical preparation of a teacher and his peculiar knowledge of pupils certainly make the learning environment more favourable compared to the use of an expert, who  has no relational continuity with the class group and who has not received the same quality of training.

From this awareness comes the whole structure of the CASTLE project, which is dynamically aimed at teachers (50), indicating a useful way to transfer to them technical skills so that they can hold chess lessons and program them in their school hours.

The tools to provide them, introduced in this project in the five classes of Primary School, in addition to training and the use of chess instructors (20) in the role of tutors, are psycho motricity on the giant chess board, chess "on the school desk" and chess activity on the WEB. The program of courses consists in starting-up 5 first classes and 5 second classes with psychomotricity, 5 third classes with chess on the desk and WEB, the first year and in each country (900 children).

The second and third year, each class will slip in the next protocol, which will already have been revised and improved through working groups composed of teachers and tutors.

The peculiarity of the project is the capacity to provide all the information the world of school, in order to transform education through a more active use of the intelligence of children, with the help of appropriate measurement tools provided by the University of Turin (Prof. Trinchero) and the ministerial bodies of the three countries.

In the last analysis this is a help in changing the educational policies of the states, in complete harmony with the Declaration of the European Parliament on the introduction of "Chess in Schools" in the education systems of the Member States of 15/03/2012.
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