09 March 2014

'Chess in School' : Robert Ferguson

Continuing with 'Chess in School' Is Individual, the first name on my initial list of chess educators is found on LinkedIn: Robert Ferguson:-

Dr. Ferguson has a wealth of experience in the field of education, including: As Coordinator for Gifted Education in the Bradford Area School District, he authored and was project director for the grant, the 4th “R” Reasoning Program, which focused on the use of chess, as well as other intellectually stimulating activities to develop both critical and creative thinking skills. He holds both elementary and secondary certification and has taught in the K-12 sector for many years in addition to the undergraduate and graduate levels.

In 1980, the Pennsylvania Department of Education reviewed the 4th “R” Reasoning Program and declared it an exemplary program. In 1986, the 4th “R” Reasoning Program was selected by the Bradford Area High School staff and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools as being one of the most unique programs in the school district.

There is so much web material on and by Dr. Ferguson that I don't know where to start. I'll use this initial post to highlight two PDF documents on uschesstrust.com. The first PDF is Chess in Education Research Summary, 'A review of key chess research studies', a presentation of 15 pages for the 'BMCC Chess in Education Conference'. The document is undated, but other references place the conference in January 1995. Following is a sample chart from the document.

The second PDF is Educational Benefits of Chess Summary Based on Research and Articles, 179 pages, also undated, but the mention of 'current world champion Kramnik' indicates the early 2000s. The 'Introduction' tells us,

There is a pressing need, in the opinion of many educators, leaders, employers, and others, to teach young people how to think. Relevant to the assumed need for teaching thinking processes, this book will review two research projects and one pilot study that I designed and directed. These studies propose that critical and creative thinking can be taught using chess as the vehicle. My 1987-88 research also asserts that chess can be utilized to develop memory.

These studies assume that chess can be employed to provide scientific verification for the theories of Dewey concerning human thought. Dewey’s theories of reflective thinking have persisted since 1910, but they remain largely absent of scientific validation.

In reviewing this material, I have the same sensation of feeling lost that I experienced for the first post in the series, 'Chess in (the) School/Schools'. I'll stop here to give it some time to sink in.

1 comment:

ChessClues said...

I'm not an educator and far from an academic so I won't comment of how or if chess helps critical thinking or creativity.

But from teaching chess to my kids and some other juniors, it would appear good chess instruction can help them learn that good judgment equals good results and the value of using helpful resources to get ahead.

For judgment, chess is a hands-on way to see the result of a choice. A choice that usually involves giving up something for an alternative gain. As Fischer put it, in chess you have to give squares to get squares. An equally important concept in life it seems.

For resources, as you demonstrate with your opening study post, chess is a great way to show that lessons learned by others can be an invaluable tool for getting ahead in the present and future. Understanding that simple fact expands ones ability to learn far beyond the structure of the education system.

Not a bad return on a relatively inexpensive and reasonably interesting pastime.