Wednesday, May 18, 2011

HOW MUCH DO STUDENTS RETAIN?

Obviously this applies to those taking chess lessons.

I am always curious as to how much students do remember or understand the lesson that was just taught to them. Very often, examples were shown and explained. However, once the lesson is over, how does the trainer ensure that the lesson just taught was understood?

I usually use the 3 methods to find out:

a. Make them play as soon as possible

b. Give homework and tests

c. Review the same lesson next week for the 1st 15 minutes

There is a constant struggle for the trainer to decide whether to introduce new material or to review older lessons to ensure that the student does understand what has been covered.

Some parents may not be exactly happy that their child has been taught the same lessons over and over and wonder why. Generally, the problem is that if students do not attempt to use the knowledge taught and do nothing until the next lesson, what was taught is forgotten and the trainer has to start again from a clean slate. Of course, this is unproductive so I urge parents to try to allocate some time for their children to play and do the homework assigned. At least 5 games a week of 15 minutes will do a lot in helping the student retain the knowledge so that it can be used in their games.

I have just started with a new student and was appalled when he told me that his previous trainer did not give notes. Naturally I asked if he could remember what he was told. The result? Bits and pieces of moves which he could not associate, especially when he claimed that he could not checkmate the King with 2 Bishops because I placed the King on a "wrong" square (apparently he could only do it on the square where his trainer placed the King).

This way of rote learning does no one any good - we cannot be expecting anyone to learn without any notes to remind the student after the trainer has ended the lesson. This is not a chess issue, its a pedagogical one. That is why I am always suspicious how much chess trainers are aware in terms of pedagogy rather than their chess knowledge. To me, if the student cannot fathom the explanations of the trainer and is taught to ask questions, every chess lesson ends up being a monologue and ....blank goes the mind until the next lesson??

Parents, do ask the right questions to your child if he/she truly understands what is taught. You are paying for it and you have every right.

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