A Short History on How to Start a High School Chess Course: by Arnie Nermo

As a teacher of Gifted and Special Education and an avid chess player, I have been interested in Chess as it relates to education for well over 20 years. It all started at William Beagle, a small high-school in Surrey, BC. The way I ran my chess club as a teacher was to run it hard, every single lunch hour…no staff room breaks for me, but plenty of fun, memories and CHESS.

Through the years, the numbers would fluctuate between 4 to 30 members. It was during the times that I had 30+ students, I would say to myself, “Why the ‘heck’ aren’t I teaching this as a real course?!”

The first hurtle has always been getting past the principals, who quite frankly just didn’t care. The real issue for them is that a teacher costs money and so it’s more important to have them covering regular classes, not any frills.

In an effort to bolster my argument that Chess is not a frill, I researched several leads and found that in Canada, Chess has been taught in the school curriculum in various forms, but usually piggy-backed into the Math curriculum or left for volunteers to bring it into the classroom for short periods of time.

My dream was a Chess course that could stand by itself and be taught on an equal footing with Science, Math or Socials Studies. Pursuing this endeavor, I was once invited to Chess legend, Nathan Divinsky’s home near UBC. He gave me a video, some kindly advice and later sent me some of the fascinating research that showed the latest educational benefits of Chess.

Although I was undaunted and enthusiastic, the dream that I had nurtured just didn’t look like it would succeed.

Here is the full fantastic article.

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