At I.S. 318, an intermediate school in Brooklyn, N.Y., chess is a way of life. Since they started up a chess team, the school has won more national championships than any other American school, both public and private. Students at I.S. 318 face challenges both on and off the chessboard – 70 per cent of its students live below the poverty line.
As he explained at our March 27 assembly, Principal Hardy learned about I.S. 318 through Paul Tough, the author of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character; the school is now gaining national attention through a documentary about five of its chess-playing students. Principal Hardy is particularly interested in what the team’s coach, Elizabeth Spiegel, does when one of her players loses a match.
“After a loss, Ms. Spiegel sits down with the player at a chessboard and replays the entire game with them,” Principal Hardy said. “In the process, students often realize that they made mistakes when they played too quickly, or without a clear strategy.” Ms. Spiegel acts as a “mirror” for the players, reflecting their own play back to them.
“In this final, very busy term, it’s important to always have clear goals, and a strategy for accomplishing them,” Principal Hardy said. “Your teachers at Greenwood help you set goals by acting as mirrors for you – they reflect back your progress, and give you things to think about in your efforts to move forward.
“Once you set an academic goal – perhaps to improve your performance in a specific course – take a look back through your past work, and reflect on errors you may have made,” Principal Hardy said. “We learn by making mistakes, but we get better by thinking about why we made those mistakes, and by not repeating them in the future.”
As part of his presentation at assembly, Principal Hardy showed students the trailer for Brooklyn Castles, the documentary about I.S. 318. Check it out below.