Get on the Internet and google the phrase “why chess is important” and you’ll come up with a long list of articles that talk about the relationship between chess and education. Some call it “the perfect teaching and learning tool.” Others say that it helps “ground us once again and remind us the importance of deep thought and concentration.” Still others note that it “increases a sense of confidence and self-worth of a student.”
Our favorite is from Educational Technologies (www.edutechchess.com) which says, “Chess is an exercise of infinite possibilities for the mind, one which develops mental abilities used throughout life: concentration, critical thinking, abstract reasoning, problem solving, pattern recognition, strategic planning, creativity, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, to name a few.”
We agree. And if you look at the goals of STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) being touted by the National Science Foundation, among others, and being implemented by the Owatonna school district, you will see that these are the sorts of things that STEM education seeks to develop in today’s students.
For that reason, we are grateful to Steve Stansberry and the administration of Willow Creek Intermediate School for continuing the tradition of the Chess Club tournament at the school. And we congratulate the students who have participated.
Anyone who has ever played the game — and we have — knows that it is not easy to learn, let alone master — a fact that we are also very much aware of. But it’s well worth the effort.
For the school to give time for the students to participate and for Mr. Stansberry to give his time to teach the students the fine points of the chess show that those involved know that it is more than a game, and in the end the students are the ones who benefit.
Mr. Stansberry, the former principal at Lincoln and McKinley elementary schools, took up coaching chess with Willow Creek students after he retired in 2004. And with the exception of last year, has coached the students through the school’s tournament every year. He was unable to coach them last year because he was recovering from a stroke.
He’s now looking for someone to take up the mantle as coach, and we’re hoping he finds one. It will benefit the students and probably keep the coach’s minds sharp, too.
In the meantime, thank you, Mr. Stansberry for continuing to educate the children of our community in the way that you do.