CASTLE PROJECT – A SUCCESS STORY FOR CHESS
The CASTLE project – 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 in schools, under the initial thrust of three partners with considerable experience in teaching chess in schools: Alfiere Bianco (White Bishop) in Italy, Deutsche Schulschachstiftung (the German school chess foundation) in Germany, Club Ajedrez 64 Villalba in Spain. The project was funded by the ERASMUS + European Program, with 246.300 euros and it was realizing from 2014 to 2017 in Italy, Spain and Germany.
The Erasmus + Agency has announced that the final evaluation of the project has been 100 points out of 100 possible, and also the project has been designated as an example of good practices on the EU Commission website.
It is the first time that a project based entirely on the pedagogical use of chess gets this recognition.
Finally, CASTLE wants to be a help in changing the education policies of the states, in full compliance with the European Parliament Declaration of 15/03/2012, which calls for the introduction of “Chess in Schools” in the education systems of the Member States, suggesting an easy-to-use template, specially created and tested with precision (over 8,000 measurement tools compiled and analyzed in three years) without any external experts and which can be disseminated independently by the schools, not only internally but also to other schools.
Interested can download free didactic materials or watch the WEB system by requesting free password through e-mail contact which is also available for those who are interested to develop the CASTLE system in other countries: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The C.A.S.T.L.E. project: a Chess Curriculum to Advance Students’ Thinking and Learning Skills in Primary Education has started with the idea of using chess as a pedagogic tool in primary school. During the three years of the project, teachers have been dynamically addressed, under the thrust of three partners all with great chess and school experience: Alfiere Bianco in Italy, the Deutsche Schulschachstiftung in Germany and the Club Ajedrez 64 Villalba in Spain.
There were three partner schools: the I.C. “Muzzone” in Racconigi (CN), the CEIP San Miguel Arcangel of Villalba (Madrid) and the Grundschule Gartnerplatz in Munich. The shared starting point was the belief that school chess nourishes the growth of individuals by involving and improving some of the particular abilities of human nature: problem solving, metacognitive and psychomotor skills as well as social and relational skills.
The partners involved in evaluating the outcome of the chess activities on the aforementioned areas were the University of Turin (Prof. Trinchero) and two partners from Ministries of Education: the Regional School for Piedmont and the Dirección General de Innovación, Becas y Ayudas a la Educación of the Madrid region.
45 teachers and their respective classes were involved in the three countries, and together with chess experts they created a chess curriculum for the five grades of primary school: psychomotor activity on giant chessboard, use of chess in classrooms “on desk” and chess activity on the web (Victorís Chess House).
The results of the intervention were very positive: in the giant chessboard activity, the children of the experimental group improved their psychomotor skills more than the control group on all the items detected with an external observer, while in the logical-mathematical and metacognitive areas results have been undoubtedly positive, though with the gap between experimental and control classes not always so obvious. As regards the questionnaires submitted to the teachers relating to the project’s impact on their professionalization, they were fully satisfied with the activities of the CASTLE Project, and confirmed (in 88% of cases) the practicality of transferring the skills they had gained on to their colleagues and, above all, the perception of a “benefit” for students, in respect of the following dimensions: classroom climate; peer collaboration; participation and involvement of all students; cross-competency development.
To date, the main way of launching “Chess in Schools” projects in Europe has been by using chess instructors, external chess experts, with a significant cost to school administrations. With the CASTLE project it has been able to suggest a valid alternative to affirm the pedagogical use of chess in schools by having the schools’ own teachers carry out the various class activities, in their classes in a completely autonomous way, during school hours. The following idea is that those teachers may, in the future, become trainers of their colleagues in the school, realizing a great expansion of “Chess in Schools” in Europe.