Methodology in Moscow (Part 2)

Tatiana Ogneva describes her teaching methodology (she uses the term “technology”) developed over ten years as a teacher and school psychologist in a Moscow primary school.

The experience of work in RDE classes gave me an important understanding that children’s abilities can be restored and improved. The main conditions for this are appropriate technologies and competent specialists. Therefore, the best technology for teaching chess is the one that will develop children’s abilities, and not just introduce children to the rules of chess.

Thus, I had an opportunity to work with three types of pupils: advanced, normal and low performing. As a result, I created a psychological methodological complex aimed at studying the learning ability in children of six to seven years old.

One of the important principles of remedial education is “Timeliness solves everything.” By extending the process of studying elementary chess rules, the teacher does not give children an opportunity to start the process of thinking. Not teaching children to exert efforts, one contributes to the development of mental laziness. As a result, children lose all interest in chess, when they face the first difficulties.

The introduction of chess as a compulsory subject in the school schedule determines the need to distribute the chess material taking into account the specifics of pupils’ age changes. It is known that a child goes through three stages in his or her development.

The first stage is characterized as a conditioned-reflex one. At this stage, the child acts fast, without thinking. His or her actions are built based on the stimulus-response principle. This stage is very important for training motor skills. At the second stage, the child acts more consciously, slowly. At this stage, the child is able to learn. At the third stage, speech plays a critical part. It becomes a regulator of behavior. During this period, the child becomes able to perceive generalizing concepts, paradigms, ideas, and plans.

These levels present simultaneously in each person, but to varying degrees. Depending on the novelty of the studied material and the accumulated experience, different levels will dominate.

As each class usually includes children with different dominance of levels, all these levels should be involved in a lesson for successful training of pupils. It is known from experience that at the beginning, pupils make much noise when playing chess and often have problems with discipline. It often results in excluding the game activity from the lesson plan. This is a huge mistake. Without saturation of the first level, a child will not be able to fully master the second level, let alone the third one.

It should be noted that chess lessons should not become an endless series of tasks, especially at the initial stage. One should not forget about the third level, the level of speech, which maintains the meanings associated with the semantic field. Working with children at this level contributes to creating a substantial meaning, satisfying the deepest human need for finding oneself and answering the question for what it is necessary. Due to this, the value of human communication is found, which gives the lessons a special charm.

It is for this purpose that I wrote a cycle of fairy tales called “Adventures in a chess kingdom.” So far, there are four interrelated parts devoted to studying the moves of chess pieces, the foundations of algorithmic activity, reflexive thinking and mental training of actions on a small-sized chessboard.

Working as a psychologist at the elementary school, I developed a set of psychological techniques and found out that modern children are far from the standard. One should not wait they they have performed the tasks flawlessly; unreasonable expectations increase the teacher’s distress. Children, like adults, have the right to make mistakes. I created a method for developing reflexive thinking in children by allowing them to make a wrong move in the tasks, but with an obligatory condition to indicate the strongest move of the enemy. After that, children themselves begin to realize the incorrectness of their move and independently find a move satisfying the requirements of the position. For the development of reflexive thinking, positions with a small number of pawns and other chess pieces are the best. Thus, if one creates conditions enabling children to understand a mistake, it will become an important factor for their development.

When practicing chess, children start feeling that the previous experience of emotional attitude hinders unbiased perception of the chess position and prevents them from finding optimal solutions. Under the influence of chess, children gradually develop rational forms of thinking; their range of responses and possibilities of self-regulation increase. It is for this purpose that chess lessons are introduced in the school program. The implemented teaching technology, taking into account the peculiarities of modern children, is of great importance. Only in this case, chess lessons will be useful, and everyone will be satisfied: children, their parents, and of course, teachers.

One Comment
  1. This is a very good piece. We in Nova Scotia, Canada, hope to introduce chess broadly to our students. In a no-chess culture, the task is to convey to our adult facilitators that chess is more than just a game. The article makes it clear that the three-stage development of reflex play (hand control), burnt finger syndrome (deliberation, suspicion), and internal dialogue (speech) is a very good road to thinking well and feeling self-esteem. Accepting early noise in the classroom to achieve rich forms of silence for the mind is the perfect gambit.

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