North West Study

Programme summary and North West University study

Tsogo Sun Moves for Life (TSMFL) is an educational intervention and initiative that uses chess as a tool for learning, which helps improve Math, basic Science skills and grow problem-­‐solving methods in children. Tsogo Sun Moves for Life introduces a Chess Programme by using chess as an educational tool to lay the critical building blocks for future learning, starting in the foundation phase. The programme teaches learners Mathematical skills, Science and Life Orientation Skills and also enhances Language Development (Gr. RR – 3). We expanded our programme to Gr. 4-­‐7 and Gr. 8-­‐12.

We have since partnered with academic institutions that are currently conducting research in terms of the direct influence and relation of learning the game of chess, intentionally using the principles/outcomes of learning through chess (MasterMoves Kids) and the scientific pathways of the brain by using this tool. The evidence is becoming so clear that learners who are participating in our MasterMoves Kids Programme show improvement in their mathematical performance as well developing a healthy self-­‐confidence and self-­‐awareness, better communication techniques and balanced risk-­‐taking savvy (as reported by positive written feedback from schools currently participating in the programme).

Current status:

TSMFL is passionate about education and believes that the optimal impact of education is essential for any kind of development. We focus on the 21st-­‐century skills to equip learners for lifelong learning. “Today’s fast-­‐changing world requires students who not only possess strong skills in areas such as Language, Arts, Math, and Science,” Boston Consulting Group analysts Allison Bailey, Elizabeth Kaufman, and Simonida Suboti write, “but must also be adept at skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, persistence, collaboration, and curiosity.”

Study:
The  North  West  University is collaborating with  TSMFL and conducting an ACTION RESEARCH in 5 schools in the Potchefstroom area. The research objectives include:

(i) Investigating the acquisition of emergent scientific reasoning “habits of mind” connected to mathematics and science teaching at the pre-­‐reception and first three years of schooling.
(ii) Defining the role of languages in the above
(iii) Utilizing a multimodal approach to representations of scientific habits of mind in teaching and learning of STEAM related domains. The direct influence of chess as a tool.

We are currently living in an era which is driven by technology at a pace that is demanding a relook at how we prepare our citizens for the future. This has led to a  most recent changed global view of supporting the  so-­‐called  STEM  (Sciences, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) related teaching approach to a STEAM  (Sciences, Technology, Engineering,  Arts  &  Mathematics)  approach. The Addition of the “A” represents the inclusion of the Arts into curricula. Those who support the STEAM initiatives recognize a number of perceived values of integrating Arts into the curricula. Particularly, the integration of  Arts promotes not only students’ cognitive growth, but also emotional and psychomotor growth, strengthens their critical thinking and problem solving,  cultivates their creativity and encourages self-­‐expression.  Chess as educational tool form part of the STEAM approach.

As we examine the stated advantages of Arts integration and refer to the 21st-century skills,  STEAM education seems to make perfect sense.  First of all, language and arts are core subjects and 21st-century themes (http://www.p21.org/).  Secondly, 21st-century skills include some essential skills, such as learning and innovation skills, which further break down into creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration. Therefore, STEAM education seems to be a promising pedagogical approach that may effectively help students to achieve the goals in STEM disciplines while at the same time developing 21st-century skills that will prepare them to lead and take on the challenges.

The role of  language in  learning,  and especially  science and mathematics  (Wildsmith-­‐Cromarty & Gordon 2009) is a critical area that has been under-­‐researched, although current studies are addressing this problem (Henning 2012). An investigation into how learners and teachers use language/s in order to facilitate  understanding of  key concepts  is a  focus which  will be  cross-­‐cutting across all sub-­‐areas for research.

One of the many critical challenges facing the current South African education fraternity locally, is the implementation, support and monitoring of effective teaching and learning of mathematics and sciences in the early years of schooling (Grade R TO 3). It has been shown that by the end of 3rd grade the potential to be successful in mastering the sciences in the later years of life have been established  (or wrecked) for many learners in the current South African schooling system (ref).
This implies that serious sustainable efforts need to be put in place to address this current status quo. Unfortunately, the solution to this problem is not a quick fix mono approach but calls for a multiple-­‐pronged approach on many levels and by many different role players.
Tsogo Sun Moves for Life is committed to be a change agent, motivate and influence the schools and communities in South Africa in a sustainable and real lasting way.