American Go E-Journal

Atlanta School Using Go to Develop Critical Thinking

Monday May 28, 2012

An Atlanta school is hoping that go will help its low-income students develop their critical thinking skills. At the Dekalb PATH Academy, in Atlanta GA, “our students are 76% Hispanic, 20% African-American and 87% are classified as low-income by federal government standards,” reports Assistant Principal Graham Balch, who launched the project. Balch says that at Dekalb “we have helped our children overcome the disadvantage of poverty,” noting that the school outperforms every other non-selective middle school in the local school system. “However, while we have done a good job of teaching them content, in my opinion, they still are behind on developing their analytical critical thinking.” Balch is hoping to change that by working with a group of teachers to teach the game of go. “Our students learned and played go for 70 minutes a day in class for three weeks,” he reports. “Our kids have loved playing go. They come in the morning and get out boards right away, we teach them how to play and technique in class, and they play, and play, in tutorial after school. It has been incredible hearing them tell us at first that ‘It’s easy’ and then a couple days later that ‘Man, this game is really getting hard.’” Balch, who says that “We look forward to seeing the impact go has on students’ critical thinking and global perspective,” adds that “I am so grateful for the American Go Foundation and None Redmond for making this possible,” and is hopeful that go may spread in Georgia schools next year. The project wrapped up the school year with a single-elimination tournament that drew 80 students. “Malcolm Ramey 30k, the boy in the middle of the picture, with a light blue shirt on, won the tournament,” said a proud Balch.
- Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo by Graham Balch.

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