Chess: The Best Move for Students
The next time President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are sitting together discussing education reform, I hope that it will be across the table from one of my elementary or middle school students. If so, there will inevitably be a chessboard between them, and I am certain my students will win every match.
My inner-city students, many of whom come from some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del., have traveled the country to compete in, and win, local, state, and national chess championships. Gov. Jack Markel of Delaware and former Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, all smart men, have challenged my students to chess matches and lost. A host of mayors, members of Congress, senators, and school superintendents—anyone brave enough to visit city schools and spend time with my students—all made the same mistake of taking them on, with similar results. These are the same children that most of society has forgotten. Yet they have gone on to attend magnet and private high schools, competitive colleges, and graduate and law schools.
Unfortunately, most of our nation's urban and rural students won't have the same opportunities as my chess players because, as a general rule, we don't teach our children to think critically or to think ahead. We don't teach them to use logic and reason or to consider rewards and consequences...
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