Chessity in practice by Regobert Eijkelkamp
Chessity in practice
In the spring of 2014, I was approached by an elementary school that wanted to organize chess competition. And before I even knew it, the school had already examined interest among its students, starting from 5th grade and nearly a hundred children signed up; But how could one organize chess courses for such a large amount of children?
I was afraid to be battered down by schoolwork. And that’s how I found out about Chessity.
But first, let us deviate to the background story. My eleven-year-old son (who’s in 8th grade) loves to play Minecraft.
In that videogame, he builds worlds and structures with digital, pixelated blocks. While playing the game, he talks with his friends on Skype. And even his entire playlist on Spotify and is dedicated to the game. As a parent, I’m am continuously confronted with a great dilemma.
Should I limit his time on the computer? And how ‘wrong’ is all of this time he spends on the PC anyway? After all, playing games on the computer hasn’t been solely spending time for quite a while now.
Take a look at education. Course material for schools is being digitized at tremendous speed. Children are encouraged to explore and discover independently in a digital learning environment. It was time to take a leap of faith: teaching chess on the computer. Learning chess with Chessity. Put your children behind the screen of a computer (an iPad or any other) and let them learn while playing and solving chess puzzles. It seemed to catch on.
The possible moves the Tower can make are taught to children by, say, picking up coins that are scattered across the board. But are those children really learning?
If you’d ask these kids, they’ll tell you that they are playing.
Chessity as a (school) chess method requires some time to get used to. But is it even an actual method? New digital learning tools dramatically change the way children learn. You could say that children learn better how to independently process and organize information.
This can both be recognized in modern education and in the methodology of Chessity. So yes, it is a method, but it requires you to track the progress of the students in a completely different way.
I make use of Chessity in the schools where I teach chess. I sometimes state that while I’m teaching I don’t stand in front of the children, but behind them. I don’t tell the children what they have to do, they figure that out on their own. I never have to correct them. Because the computer provides immediate feedback if a puzzle isn’t solved. But I do discuss certain puzzles with the children if they don’t succeed in solving them and want to know what’s going wrong.
If you let kids go loose on a computer, things may happen which you can’t always predict as an adult. That’s how I teach chess to a group of children that always want to play chess against each other on Chessity – while they already played against each other during the first part of the lesson on a physical board.
A different group was allowed to create accounts on another chesssite. Simply because they found it amazing to play against someone from China or South Africa.
I lost grip of that same group when they discovered the chat feature. But when we agreed on certain rules regarding that matter, we got along again. And what seemed to be very important: the one who had the most beautiful avatar on his profile! Pictures of FC Barcelona, dogs, horses, and many others passions passed the revue.
Because of the collaboration between Chessity and the KNSB (Dutch Chess Federation), another new form of school chess emerged. The school can now organize chess lessons on its own, without a chess teacher being present during each course. A practical solution, because there often isn’t a chess teacher available.
Okay, let’s get back to the beginning of my story: in our digital age, there are many children that like to learn chess. Chess is an outstanding game in which you can easily switch from a 2D (computer) to playing on a physical chess board.
How sweet is that?
( "Chessity in practice" _Chess magazine volume 122, no. 5 – by Regobert Eijkelkamp)