Character Chess has been selected because of our work locally and nationally with Boys of Color in the area of character development and academic performance. We understand that academic performance is proceeded by a set of values. A value for self, others, hard work and the knowledge are just a few of these essential building blocks. Good character is the combination of values, which happens in the mind and heart, and a behavioral commitment to upholding those values. That happens in our actions. We have tried for too long to modify behavior before dealing with the foundational beliefs that shape behavior.
To expect a child to perform well in school when he has no commitment to actively participating, paying attention, completing assignments, working through frustration or exploring new things, is to wish for the nearly impossible. There are those that place the responsibility on teachers to be more engaging, more sensitive to learning styles and more diverse in their approach to achieve results with children. I believe we should have the highest stand for student performance as well. We chose to inspire student performance based on 7 character traits that produce results in school and life.
These performance values include:
- ZEST -- approaching life with excitement and energy; feeling alive and activated
- SELF-CONTROL -- regulating what one feels and does; being self-disciplined
- GRATITUDE -- being aware of and thankful for opportunities that one has and for good things that happen
- CURIOSITY -- taking an interest in experience and learning new things for its own sake; finding things fascinating
- OPTIMISM -- expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it
- GRIT -- finishing what one starts; completing something despite obstacles; a combination of persistence and resilience
- SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE -- being aware of motives and feelings of other people and oneself; including the ability to reason within large and small groups
This model has been practiced and proven by the KIPP Schools since 1994. It is based on the research findings of
Dr. Angela Duckworth, Dr. Chris Peterson, and Dr. Martin Seligman. However, this is not a new concept. It is the foundation upon which most American schools were founded. We are now returning to this commitment.
Therefore, it is fitting that our strategy for encouraging these values employs a game that stretches back at least 2,000 years. Chess has been used over the years to teach the values and strategies for being success and producing results. While the strategies have evolved as our societies have, the game remains relevant for today's purpose. Chess is the only game proven to improve focus, concentration, reading comprehension and social engagement.
Combining Character Education and the strategic challenges of Chess are a natural fit. We teach lessons of Character through the game of Chess. While students learn the basic rules and strategies of the game, they are challenged to extract the metaphoric lessons from the game and apply them to their lives.
Over the past 10 years, I have successfully used this technique to inspire and transform the academic, personal and professional lives of hundreds of students. I am excited for this opportunity to share these strategies with educators from around the country at the COSEBOC Gathering of Leaders. We are going to have a ton of fun exploring the intersection of character, chess and academic excellence.