Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Students participate in new chess program at magnet school

UA students will be teaching chess to sixth graders at the new Tuscaloosa City School district magnet school.

The UA Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility partnered with the Freedom Chess Academy, a local nonprofit organization, to begin the Every Move Counts: A Chess in Education project.

“This is one of the first programs of its kind in the country, and we’re excited about its potential,” said Stephen Black, director of the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility.

UA students received training for the initiative through the Freedom Chess Academy by meeting weekly and being instructed on how to teach chess to children and the benefits chess can have in education.

For two mornings every week, UA students teach chess as a part of club activities day to 12 students.

“Seeing the kids become enthusiastic about the game has been enjoyable for me to witness. They really want to get better and learn more all the time,” said Matt Tucker, a sophomore majoring in biology who is involved with Every Move Counts.

The Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility said chess has been shown to improve English, reading and math skills, as well as analytical and concentration skills. For academically at-risk children, chess has been reported to better their school attendance, improve self-control, and increase their motivation.

Thirty nations around the world have included chess in their educational systems because of the benefits it produces. The United States has recently begun seeing the academic benefits of chess, and several states have added it to their curriculum.

“I have two dreams for chess in Alabama,” said Rose Marie Stutts, founder of the Freedom Chess Academy. “My first dream is that chess may become a part of the educational curriculum to enhance our state’s ability to educate all of our children. My second dream is that someday we will have enough coaches for all the students who want to play on chess teams.”

The Freedom Chess Academy provides chess pieces and boards, as well as instructor training material used in the Every Move Counts initiative.

“Through mentoring young chess players, college students establish a tie with the community while teaching a game they enjoy, and children have fun while reaping educational and social rewards,” Black said.

Every Move Counts was a new service-learning class in spring 2010 focused on examining educational reforms across the country and to investigate the academic, social, as well as behavioral benefits for children who learn chess. The students held class discussions and developed lesson plans to teach chess at the local magnet school.

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