Why Go in Schools?
Go can be used as an educational tool and deserves to be a part of the life of many schools.
Go ranks alongside the other mind sports, such as Bridge and Chess, in its applicability to schools, and in some ways is even more beneficial.
Charles Clarke, when Minister of Education and questioned about Go, said
"The case for mind sports in schools is self-evident."
Go is traditionally considered to have been invented by an ancient Chinese emperor in order to brain-train his slacking son and make him able to concentrate at his lessons. The son started to play Go, became successful in his lessons and did indeed become the mighty warrior that his father wanted.
We don't expect children who play Go to become mighty warriors, but it has been shown that playing Go does help with concentration and academic improvement in certain types of youngsters.
Go can be played at all levels and enjoyed by those of any ability, its handicapping system allowing a level playing field. However it can be most fulfilling perhaps to those gifted and talented children who need something simple yet deep to stretch their minds. With good reason, Go is described as taking seconds to learn, but a lifetime to master.
Go can also be a doorway into Oriental culture and the East Asian way of thinking.
Who can play Go?
Go can be played at any age, but some groups of year 1 and 2 pupils may find it too difficult. There's a simpler version of the game called Capture Go which we recommend to start with at this age. Actually, if they lived in China, by year 1 many children would already have been playing for up to three years and some would have reached a high amateur level.
Go clubs exist in both senior and junior schools in the UK and their pupils have taken part in both the UK Go Challenge and the British Youth Go Championships. There are usually some players in the under-8 section (but we seldom get anyone in the under-5 age group).
There are some blind children who play with special tactile sets and the simple Capture Go game has been played by learning difficulty pupils in Japan.
How to Teach Go at School?
Initially you will need a Go introduction of some sort. This could take the form of getting in an expert Go teacher or a local Go player to show how it works. A session would consist of group lessons at the front using a demonstration board, as in the photograph at the top of this page, and sessions where the players pair off and play in pairs, as in the second photograph. This can all be fitted into 45 minutes, or preferably longer, or the introduction can be broken into several parts. Alternatively a half or full day introduction will allow a more relaxed atmosphere and allow investigation of some of the cultural aspects of Go.
The Association has a large number of volunteers willing to help with youth go by providing advice or teaching, including visiting schools: please contact (initially) the Youth Committee Chairman. We also have a Teaching Accreditation Service, so one of these people may be directly helpful to you.
Alternatively you can get a Go evaluation pack and discover about Go for yourself, before passing it on to your class. There are several beginners Go books available, introductory leaflets, websites and other resources to help you along your way.
Of course if you can already play, then it may just be extra resources or tips you need, to be able to teach the game successfully.
This page provides a list of links to pages that will be useful to school teachers and other youth Go organisers. For more information about the game itself, click on "What is Go?" at the top of the menu on the left, or one of the other menu items.
If you are a young person yourself, you will probably want to look at the Junior Go Pages which are very cool and have much of interest.
Our Youth Committee is all about providing support, encouragement, teaching and events for children who play Go. Please direct initial contact through the appropriate Association officer. If in doubt contact the Youth Committee Chairman or our President.
EquipmentMost commercially available Go Sets are quite expensive and may not be immediately appropriate for introducing children to the game. Accordingly we have made cheap 9x9 sets available for schools. These sets consist of a 9x9 laminated board (with a summary of the rules on the back) and a set of black and white stones. The stones come in plastic bags, so you may wish to provide more substantial containers. A package of 4 sets retails at a discounted price of £20 (including VAT) from Pentangle Puzzles and Games. For further details, please contact the Youth Committee Chairman. A range of our printed leaflets is also available, usually free of charge.