As part of the UK Go Challenge, we offer schools the opportunity to ask for a BGA volunteer to pay a visit to provide a first introduction to Go. When we receive such requests, we shall look for volunteers living near the school to do the visit.
These guidelines are intended to help volunteers understand what the BGA can do to help them in this work, and what the BGA, and the school receiving the visit, will expect of them.
We are looking for volunteers who:
If you are willing to be asked to visit a school in your area to introduce Go, please contact Jon Diamond, who is maintaining the list of volunteers.
Schools will make their request for a visit to the BGA Youth Development Officer or the UK Go Challenge Organiser, who will put you in contact with the school so that you can agree on visit times and such details. When a visit is arranged in this way, the volunteer will be acting as a BGA representative, and can reclaim travel expenses from the BGA at BGA standard rates (train/bus fares or 30p/mile by car, reclaimable from the BGA Treasurer). The status of BGA representative and the availability of expenses apply only to each single visit arranged in this way.
When speaking with the school to arrange your visit, it's advisable to ask where to park. Some schools provide visitors parking, but not all do.
When you arrive at the school, go directly to the main entrance. You may have to ring a bell to gain admission. Usually, you will enter a reception area, and you may be asked to sign in and be given a visitor's badge or sticker. Don't worry if you find things slightly different from this. So long as you arrive at the main entrance, it will be clear.
It is possible that you may be kept waiting when you arrive. If this happens, even if it seems like an unreasonable delay, be prepared for the possibility that there may be an emergency going on, and act as if nothing were untoward. Your patience will be appreciated by everyone and will contribute to the BGA's good reputation.
During your visit, remember that your role is to be the Go expert - nothing else. While you are in the school, you should always be accompanied by a member of staff, and all matters of classroom behaviour and suchlike are his/her responsibility, not yours. If you spot a situation arising which you believe needs intervention, then, unless all that's needed is clarification of a Go rule, draw the teacher's attention to it and do not intervene yourself.
Even if you are keen to help run a Go club at the school, don't press too hard. Although many schools do start clubs, it requires a commitment of time by a teacher or trusted parent to supervise it. Children will sometimes express eagerness to have a Go club. Welcome their enthusiasm, but make any offer privately to the teacher in the first instance.
For your own protection, take care not to get into situations that could be misconstrued.
Interact with those children who wish to interact with you - they will usually indicate this by raising a hand. If a child seems to you inattentive or not participating, leave him or her alone. He may not really want to be there, may want to avoid exposing his lack of understanding, or may want time to figure something out by himself.
When talking to children, you should obviously take their level of understanding into account, but don't talk down to them or make the mistake of trying to speak in children's language. Just speak as you would normally speak.
While the children are playing, walk around the room watching the games. Children sometimes feel self-conscious if an adult is watching their play. If there's room, stand back a couple of paces to help avoid this, and be ready to move on if it happens. Spend just a few moments at each game, not a lot of time at one interesting one. This is your chance to see how much has been understood and to figure out if you need to clarify or emphasise anything.
When you see a rules mistake, it's best to intervene to correct it. The most common ones are:
When correcting rules mistakes, ask rather than tell where possible, and never rebuke. For example "Can you see where you've captured some stones?" or "How many liberties have these stones got?" are better than "These stones have no liberties. You should take them off now".
Don't intervene to correct tactical and strategic errors, however egregious, unless you are asked to. Let them play their own games!
Don't take more interest in any child than in the others, however much natural ability (s)he may show. The goal is everyone's enjoyment, not the discovery of the next 6-dan. Remember that:
Receiving your visit is a significant addition to a teacher's workload on the day, and you will usually only get to make one visit, which may be for as little as 40 minutes. This is easily reduced to 30 minutes after allowing time for settling down at the beginning and clearing up at the end.
In a one-to-one session, you may well be able to teach a beginner enough in 30 minutes for them to be able to complete a game, remove dead stones from inside territory and count the score. It may seem that this should be possible for a class of thirty too, but it isn't. Don't feel tempted to fight this by cramming too much into the session. The inevitable result would be that the session becomes a lecture, and you will lose the attention of your audience.
Your goal is not to ensure that your pupils can play Go properly after your session, but to give them some (probably incomplete) idea of what the game is like, and to leave them wanting to play more. If your pupils have done nothing more than play first-capture, or any other half-way-house game, and enjoyed it, you will have succeeded. Then you can give them some resources provided by the BGA and they can continue learning at the pace they want.
Some ingredients for a successful session are:
If you haven't been into a school as a visitor before, you may feel apprehensive about what it will be like, and perhaps afraid of making some faux pas. You may find the atmosphere hectic at first, but don't worry. You will be escorted throughout your visit, and if you remember the advice above about demeanour and be yourself, you'll be fine.
If you feel you need some advice or ideas about how to run your session, tell the BGA Youth Development Officer or the BGA Education Officer and we can arrange to discuss it with you on the phone. If you prefer to see it done before you try it yourself, we may be able to arrange for an experienced Go teacher to come to one of the school visits in your area together with you and perhaps other volunteers in your club or region.
You're quite likely to be asked questions about the UK Go Challenge. The information you need is on its web site, and there is a summary in the flier we will provide you.