Ten years ago, when my fourth-grade class began an extended activity on latitude and longitude, Raya still looked puzzled.
“I just don’t understand,” she said.
After having delivered two lessons on the subject, I struggled to find one more way to explain it.
I’d just started including chess that year as an activity, and I happened to catch sight of our chess demo board at the front of the room.
I began, “Think about how we identify a square on the chessboard. We name the vertical file it is on, and then the horizontal rank. In the case of latitude and…”
Raya had turned to look at the chessboard. Her eyes were already lit up. “I get it now,” she said. Eagerly– and accurately — she began her work.
That was the first time I recognized the magic of chess in my classroom.
These kinds of epiphanies are now a frequent joy that I have come to expect. Chess is not only included in my curriculum, it is a crucial part of my classroom culture. It infuses all topics, all activities, and by doing so, adds to them the same kind of passion and joy that almost all children show for learning and playing chess.
Chess isn’t just chess.
Chess is everything.