Everyone who spends time with kids should watch this 60 Minutes segment

Copyright CBS News; used under Fair Use — commentary on a news story

Please also read this companion post, “Why Isn’t That What School Is?”

Everyone who spends time with with kids should watch this 60 Minutes segment. It lays waste to those who argue that we can’t do anything innovative in school because we have to meet “the standards.”

These kids, from a long-dismissed rural county in Mississippi, have been learning to play high-level chess for 18 months, and now are excelling in every aspect of school and life. I am much more hopeful for these kids than I would be for a kid whose primary “achievement” is a series of high test scores.

Below the video insert is a partial transcript that echoes what I have heard for many years from educators, parents and community members who have witnessed students who know they matter and are fully engaged in passion-based learning. Quotes from students are in italics.

“We teach history. We teach geography. We teach science. We teach math. We teach it all using the chess board…”

“Over the course of my career in teaching chess people say things like, ‘I did not know that he could do something like that, or even something as simple and as crass as I did not know he was smart or she was smart.’”

“I feel like chess could take us anywhere. But it’s not about where it takes us, it’s about how far it takes us.”

“Chess has helped Bulington’s players see there’s more to themselves than they’ve seen before.”

“Chess is, like, something that like I’m like really good at for once.”

“Has it changed you at all?” “All my grades used to be like low, medium low Bs. Now, they’re A’s and high B’s.”

“Last year, only seven of the 93 graduates from Franklin County High School went on to a four-year college, but every chess player we spoke to plans to attend college some day.”

“It’s really shocked me how far he’s c0me…”

“Is it fun to see your kids dream a little bigger than the county line?” “Yes. Yes. So big that it’s almost like, “Braden, come on, get real.” You know, it just gets so big….”

“This gives them a window at a young age, that, ‘Hey, there’s a whole world out there…I need to set my goals at whatever I want ’em to be.’”

“Can the best chess player in the world come from Franklin County?” “Maybe.”

*****

In late Spring, I will publish an online course for educators and students that is inspired by the life’s work of Angela Maiers, whom I helped create Choose2Matter. This 60 Minutes story reflects so many of the tenets of this course and the work we did for the past four years. Parents of students whose teachers take this course will be echoing these words. Click here to learn more!

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