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The ChessTech 2020 conference organized by ChessPlus in December 2020 attracted over 500 participants from more than 40 countries. Jerry Nash had the opportunity to lead a question-and-answer session on the first day of the conference with Principal Salome Thomas-EL of the Thomas Edison Charter School in Wilmington, Delaware. This is Part 3 of a 4-part series featuring his responses to various questions regarding his background in education and his belief in the power of chess as an educational tool.

Q – You are an educator and an administrator. You already are a proponent of chess in the school. What will it take to get more administrators and teachers to see the value of chess as an educational tool?

Here’s the big issue. And I understand especially with the pandemic you know all that we’re going through with Covid-19 is that principals, superintendents, teachers, they have so much on their plate. So when we come to them and say, you know, “Add chess, make chess a part of the program,” they’re now looking at a small plate. And the food on the plate is now spilling over on the plate. So what we have to become very good at is that we have to let teachers and principals know that we’re not adding to what you are doing, this is going to support. This is going to teach to critically think and more importantly build their resilience. Their self-confidence. Which will impact everything that they do in school.

And of course, you know that I did my dissertation research around the impact of chess on the resilience and self-efficacy on the students in my chess program. And it’s amazing what happens to these young people. So we have to become very very convincing, Because as a teacher myself, I understand that there’s so much pressure on educators. And we have to understand that they can’t solve all the world’s problems, although society asks us to all the time. But chess is a tool that will help impact everything else that we do. So principals and teachers and superintendents and other district staff need to understand that this will actually help them to work smarter and not work harder. They have to understand that chess is very mathematical, but it impacts every aspect of a child’s life.

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