The Caroline Campelo Cruz e Silva School in Palmas City, Brazil, has launched a full go program for kids, reports teacher Luciano Sanches Teixeira. Recent changes in organization and curricula at the school opened up space for new teaching activities, including a room equipped for teaching chess and checkers. “The first contact with go came about through research about (chess and checkers) on the Internet,” that led to the discovery that “there was another game, an oriental game played with glass spheres on a wooden board,” says Teixeira.
The school received its first go board in 2010, and while the initial interest was sparked by curiosity about an ancient game, Teixeira says that go “gained our attention thanks to its relationship with mathematics.” In addition to the calculations required for playing go, “We also think that looking at the different shapes built on the board and dealing with the delicate stones could also help develop motor coordination and laterality,” which are both important in the literacy process. This year the school launched a project to teach go to all students, for two months the students had go lessons, and “We also offered workshops after the regular classes, where students had access to the game of go throughout the school year.”
The go project aims to promote the game in the school, as well as to support the development of logical thinking. “We present basic math in a fun and exciting way, and stimulate organizational skills for managing schoolwork; we encourage values in relation to the productive use of human reasoning, and promote an understanding of students roles in building a better society,” adds Texiera.
Students themselves helped build the school’s go sets out of ethyl vinyl acetate, a type of rubber very popular in Brazilian schools for the construction of inexpensive teaching materials. The low cost of the materials helped promote go outside the school. The schedule of activities included a workshop teaching the basics of the game to other teachers so that they can work with go in an interdisciplinary way. It’s also hoped that since board games function as a communication tool, the go program “may facilitate the connection of our students to people from other places, other cultures and other languages,” notes Teixeira. To this end, the Kiseido Go Server will be implemented in the school computer room, so that students can use the network to play with other go players around the world.
“Go is wonderful…it has changed the way I experience board games,” said student Sara Beatriz Santos Nogueira. Fellow students Junior Vilson Ferreira and Jorge Marques dos Santos Victor both fell in love with the game – Vilson says go is the best game he has ever played — and in the second week of the project they signed up for the after-school workshop. This type of positive response to the pilot project at the Caroline Campelo Cruz e Silva School bodes well for potential adoption elsewhere in Brazil, according to Abrago (the Brazilian Go Association).
Because board games are still new in Brazil’s school environment, the next step will be to evaluate the project’s impact, and then to propose expansion to other schools. Project organizers credit Abrago for providing educational materials, technical guidance, and “helping further the dissemination of the work, making possible the implementation of this initiative,” says Teixeira, adding that without the support of Roberto Petresco and Everson Batista da Silva “we would not have succeeded.”
- based on a report by teacher Luciano Sanches Teixeira, translated by Roberto Petresco and edited by EJ Youth Editor Paul Barchilon.