Crowning Moment for School Chess
On the fringe of the Chess Olympiad in Dresden, some of the principal representatives of school chess attended a press conference in support of the Dresden Chess Appeal and to broadcast their message to schools across the world. All of the speakers emphasised the benefits of chess as an integrated component of the academic curriculum and recreational culture in Germany as in the rest of the world.
At the conference, from left to right:
Alexander Wild (South Tirol State Champion 2000, and CONI-FSI qualified youth coach), Cor van Wijgerden (former Dutch national trainer und founder of the Stappen Method), representatives of the German Chess Foundation, Matthias Dräger ((Foundation Board) and Detlef Koch (Foundation Council und qualified trainer of the GDF), Dr Ernst Bönsch (former trainer of the German national team and technical author of the seminal work of coach training) and Dr. Marion Bönsch-Kauke (lecturer and writer of countless works on the psychology of the game).
Dr. Marion Bönsch-Kauke and Dr. Ernst Bönsch in a joint response:
"The time is ripe!" maintained the Berlin associate professor and author of "Smarter With Chess", Dr Marion Bönsch-Kauke, to responsibly establish chess in every aspect of education, with the focus on chess in schools. There should be centres of the school chess initiative in every town which for decades have had roots (scientific, political, sporting etc.) in the school chess movement:
Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, Leipzig, Lübeck and München.
Dr Bönsch-Kauke, lecturer in Social, Developmental and Educational Psychology at the Berlin Humboldt University stressed that there are heaps of lyrical statements and semi-scientific studies in circulation but they are regrettably insubstantial - despite their authors' best of intentions and commitment - and not focussed enough on the central issue of personal and social development that chess, as an educational instrument, provides. This objection also applies to widely available teaching material which is of no proven value but serves some pragmatic purpose.
There are hardly any plans for investigative studies into the development of chess playing skills, of how it supports rational education and how it transfers to other areas of life, to enhanced learning capacity and development.
We should not only value and give the highest attention to the technical aspects of the chess instruction, but even more so to the educational and psychological qualities of the lesson and to the sporting exercise. Furthermore, teachers, parents and other attachment figures can learn along with the kids. From experience, they conquer their inhibitions and drop their intellectual self-perception and overcome entrenched attitudes to thinking and education.
What has yet to be established is in what form chess is to be "taught" as a school subject; random or organized, methodical or spontaneous, compulsory or optional?
Learning to play - learning to play?? The former German national chess team trainer, Dr Ernst Bönsch and Dr Bönsch-Kauke favour soundly prepared and systematic teaching and learning!