Assistant teacher program/Chess


Activity: play and discussion
Group size: unlimited
Preparation: none
Instructors: 1
Duration: any

Chess can be useful to train and to analyze the ability of a pupil to explain something or to understand and to discuss the explanations of somebody else.

A useful setup is that a teacher or assistant teacher (the examiner) plays a game of chess against a team of two players. The team can consist of two pupils or one pupil and an assistant teacher. If the second player is an assistant teacher he can pretend not to understand the explanations and he can offer his own explanations, which can be intentionally suboptimal.

The examiner should play the game silently, possibly making notes on paper during the game. The players must agree on their moves, if they cannot agree the game ends. The examiner has the opportunity to form an opinion about the ability of one or two pupils to discuss the state of the game and future strategies and he is free to listen and to consider what is said because nobody expects him to talk during the game.

The examiner should pay attention to the reasoning of the pupils but the primary focus of attention should be the pupils' ability to explain and their social behavior while explaining something. A future assistant teacher should be able to keep his voice down, even during a dispute about strategy.

The examiner doesn't have to explain his motivation, so a pupil may be likely to expect that winning the game was the purpose.

The assistant teachers can try out this situation by forming small groups and playing chess as one examiner against two players, who discuss their strategy openly. Instructors can begin this unit with a small group of participants as players, who become the examiners for the following group, so that most participants have the chance to play and to be an examiner to players who don't know the exact role of the examiner already.

What should the examiner notice?

  • Do the players
    • interrupt each other?
    • argue logically?
    • allow each other to explain their views?
    • react to each other's explanations or ignore the other's opinion?
    • argue to solve the above problems (if present)?
    • ... ?

An examiner could maintain a checklist and notice occurrences (or absence) of each type of behavior he was prepared to notice.

Afterwards the participants should discuss their observations with the instructor.

What did the participants observe?

  • What can the pupils learn from the situation?
  • What can the examiners learn about their pupils?
  • Is the game useful as preparation for assistant teachers?
  • Is the game useful as a test?


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