Sat Dec 3. 2022
I wanted to think about what has been a constant throughout my life as I projected my identities onto online spaces. What is it that connects my digital and physical spaces?
I chose chess. The bishop is my favorite. The Queen can deliver crushing blows with her unlimited power. The rook is able to control a line and cut away retreat, while the knight flanks with devastating forks. But for me, I look to my bishop.
They have the option to strike first, get rid of pesky knights, or just wait. A striker waiting for a pin or skewer. This is in many ways what we do as teachers. We need to know when to move forward and when to wait. Although we may be co-learners, we must first be leaders.
I believe we don't speak of the leadership qualities required for teaching. This is even more important in today's networked worlds. We learn together with students, but we often have the knowledge and skills to share with others. We want to see a community grow. This requires leadership. We all have a role in our 64-bit world, from the King to the Bishop.
Although chess has been a part my life for six years, it has not been as often in the last six. I don't remember when I learned to play (still learning), but I do recall playing with my Grandfather (if he could be freed from Othello).
Since then, it has been the game I turn to most online and offline. I have played chess at many locations. One of my favourite games was when I jumped into Crater Lake, Oregon. (note: I don't recommend swimming in Crater Laker if you climb down). It was dangerous to get back up.
I enjoyed looking out over Lake Tahoe on New Year's Day, when it was too cold to ski. We decided to jump in the Lake instead. It was still cold.
As I traveled across the US, I played at many venues and at a few gatherings. Here is an example of a travel itinerary:
Virginia Beach, VARaleigh, NC
Mountain View, CA
Maryland Heights, MO
Tinley Park, IL
East Troy, WI
Darien Center, NY
My chess set never left my side. My journal and board remained with me as I traveled. I was always looking for a way to pass the time. I didn't have enough time to write.
Some of the most memorable games were played on the deck at my budddy's apartment in Hartford, CT. He lived right across from Trinity College. It was a vibrant, but poor, community that was more filled with words and sounds than the crime we see in the news.
Once the novelty of going out every evening was over, we could enjoy the simple pleasures that come with a long night of playing Chess.
I would play different games, chess, and feel days of elation after losing great games. My brain isn't the best at winning or losing. This manifests itself in chess very easily.
Chess has helped me (albeit only a little) to learn how to not model this behavior for my children. There seems to be a genetic connection between the simple logic of games having two outcomes: winner or loser. It's almost as if my children understand that the second place is actually the first loser.
We are working together to change this mindset. This is one of the many lessons I learned from chess. Actually, chess taught me a lot more about teaching.
Mentorship requires leadership and expertise. It takes a community united in a common goal.
When I mention the importance of background knowledge, and direct instruction, people in inquiry-based and problem-based learning attack me. I don't see it as a dichotomy: "You can't be both pro-DI and pro-discovery.
Knowledge is most effective when shared by mentors and learners who share a common goal. Direct Instruction is still effective. Direct Instruction is available at your convenience and can be accessed in a timely manner, based on your current goals.
Learning spaces has been a key part of my chess game. I have learned that the best spaces are not bound by time or space.
So I believe in chess. Actually, I don't want my children to learn coding too quickly. When they get into the workforce, the languages they have learned today will no longer be available. I care about the computational thinking, not the code. I introduced my six-year-old to chess. It is my favorite way to learn code.
He doesn't have to play, but I will let him play if he asks. He must also play equal amounts of educational games before he can play any sport game on the iPad. He chooses chess by himself.
He is curious about Minecraft like all kids. His friends have been building worlds, but the tinkering and tech isn't yet a huge draw. That is fine by me. It doesn't matter what code you use, but the life lessons that chess can teach you can help you solve any complicated problem later in your life, no matter where you are located on the board.