The project C.A.S.T.L.E. : a Chess curriculum to Advance Students´ Thinking and Learning skills in primary Education (this acronym reminds of the casteling move) was born from the idea of creating a strong partnership in the field of chess at school, under the influence of three partners with extensive experience in this: “Alfiere Bianco” in Italy, “Deutsche Schulschachstiftung” (German Foundation Chess in Schools) in Germany, “Club Ajedrez 64 Villalba” in Spain.
Our common thought is that chess in school encourage the growth of individuals, involving the peculiar abilities of human nature: understanding of the laws of cause and effect, the ability to choose and interpret relationships, developing abilities like self-determination and accountability.
This is what we want to teach children through chess, making them understand that to continue along the chosen path in life constructively, you always need some help, because the human being is organized in a collective society.
From this comes the importance of such a didactic-pedagogical basic approach: chess, as well as they develop concentration, creativity, analytical skills, decision-making, memory, perseverance, with immediate positive impact at the school level, teach also that to get results we must learn to relate to others, accepting their presence and exploiting it feeling accepted. Therefore, through the game of chess at school all those mechanisms that, on a large scale, realize social integration, fight against discrimination, bullying prevention, social cohesion and reduct the crime rate, are widely facilitated at the social level.
The game is a training for life, in which one learns to face difficulties, defeats and even successes and victories: understanding their processes helps to develop critical thinking, patience, acceptance of defeat, determination and the ability of a strategic approach, essential skills to deal with the actions that you perform every day, in a world like a big chessboard, made of “black nights and white days”. (Jorge L. Borges).
The work of chess instructors, introduced into the schools as external experts, is the primary mode still existing in the world for starting-up “Chess in Schools” projects, if we leave out the few countries where the Education Ministry has launched a training program for teachers and chess have entered the educational system, introduced as a subject by teachers.
The current model, however, has several gaps, not from a technical point of view, but from that of the continuity over the years, with poor results in terms of learning and education of pupils.
Another point is that the pedagogical preparation of a teacher and his peculiar knowledge of pupils certainly make the learning environment more favourable compared to the use of an expert, who has’t any relational continuity with the class group and who has not received the same quality of training.
From this awareness comes the whole structure of CASTLE project, which is dynamically aimed at teachers (50), indicating a useful way to transfer to them technical skills so that they can hold chess lessons and program them in their school hours.
The tools to provide them, introduced in this project in the five classes of Primary School, in addition to training and the use of chess instructors (20) in the role of tutors, are psycho motricity on the giant chess board, chess “on the school desk” and chess activity on the WEB. The program of courses consists in starting-up 5 first classes and 5 second classes with psycho motricity, 5 third classes with chess on the desk and WEB, the first year and in each country (900 children).
The second and third year, each class will slip in the next protocol, which will already have been revised and improved through working groups composed of teachers and tutors.
The peculiarity of the project is the capacity to provide all the information the world of school, in order to transform education through a more active use of the intelligence of children, with the help of appropriate measurement tools provided by the University of Turin and the ministerial bodies of the three countries.
In the last analysis this is a help in changing the educational policies of the states, in complete harmony with the Declaration of the European Parliament on the introduction of “Chess in Schools” in the education systems of the Member States of 15/03/2012.