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"Introduction to Logical Thinking "

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YEAR IN REVIEW 2002
Year in review 2000
Hoboken Family Alliance

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Chalkboards? Try Using Chessboards
> By SUSAN SAULNY
>
> Published: April 12, 2005
>
>
> he games drew about 15 chess enthusiasts to a
windowless conference room at
> City College in Harlem, where pawns and rooks were
moved with such intensity
> of purpose that the scene could have passed for yet
another high-stakes
> tournament.
>
> The grandmaster and bona fide chess luminary Maurice
Ashley was there,
> calling out commentary as he often does when
championship matches are
> broadcast around the world. He is known to use lines
like, "Pawns are
> attacking mercilessly!" and "The bishop is slicing
and dicing!"
>
> But what Mr. Ashley had to say about chess on this
night was more academic.
> Literally. "A lot of times in education we try to
teach kids the one right
> answer and that leads, in my opinion, to robotic
thinking," he told the
> players, encouraging them to think of multiple
possible moves before
> choosing the best play. "Real life isn't like that.
Is there ever one right
> answer? Generating alternatives for the sake of
alternatives is a good
> thing."
>
> The players, mostly New York City public school
teachers, nodded. This
> routine, the playing of chess followed by deep
thoughts on education,
> happens every Wednesday night during a new class Mr.
Ashley is teaching
> called "Introduction to Logical Thinking Through
Chess" for the mathematics
> department at City College. Mr. Ashley and the dean
of the college's school
> of education, Alfred S. Posamentier, organized the
class with a lofty goal:
> improve teaching by guiding a group of teachers
through the problem-solving
> strategies that are part of a good chess player's
arsenal.
>
> The seminar, an elective class worth two graduate
credits, meets once a week
> for two and a half hours. Mr. Ashley tries to get
the teachers to do what he
> does in chess and in life: think backward with a
desired outcome in view,
> generate multiple options as possible solutions to
any question, consider
> the perspectives of others, and give respect to the
least powerful, the
> pawns of the game.
>
> "Over the years, we have tried many different
approaches to developing the
> most effective teachers," Dr. Posamentier said. "We
have regulated the size
> of the class, the material the teacher uses, the
kind of content background
> that is most desirable, and the philosophy that
should work best. However,
> it seems we have not concentrated enough on the
general thinking strategies
> that a teacher should master to maximize his
effectiveness."
>
> Now the educators are thinking about their thinking.
>
> Before class on Wednesday night, Mr. Ashley
explained a personal distaste
> for memorization and facts, and laid out his
education philosophy, the one
> he hopes the teachers will take from the class:
"Knowledge flips every day.
> What we know becomes wrong tomorrow. We need kids
who know how to think."
>
> The class seems a natural fit for Mr. Ashley. Unlike
many of the country's
> top players who spend a lot of time preparing for
tournaments, Mr. Ashley, a
> native of Jamaica who grew up in Brownsville,
Brooklyn, and lives in Queens,
> has been teaching children chess for years. He had
never taught teachers
> before, but was willing to try.
>
> "My method has always been not just to teach chess
moves, but to better
> accelerate thinking and concentration skills," Mr.
Ashley said. "These ideas
> have been a part of my technique for so long, I
said, 'Of course!' "
>
> The United States Chess Federation named Mr. Ashley
Grandmaster of the Year
> in 2003, but other proud moments in his career
involve lesser known titles.
> Mr. Ashley was coaching the Raging Rooks of Junior
High School 43 in Harlem
> when they won the National Junior High School
Championship in 1991. He also
> coached the Harlem-based Dark Knights, two-time
national champions in the
> junior varsity division.
>
> "What's he doing on campus? That was my first
thought when I heard about the
> class," said Josh Weiner, a senior at City

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