Guidelines for Volunteers Visiting Schools

1. Introduction

As part of the UK Go Challenge, we offer schools the opportunity to ask for a 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 we can do to help you in this work, and what we, and the school receiving the visit, will expect of you.

2. Should I volunteer?

We are looking for volunteers who:

  • are members of the Association
  • can be available at times suitable for schools
  • attach more importance to pupils' enjoyment of the game than to their skill, present well, and will not be tempted to over-instruct
  • will arrive promptly and appropriately dressed
  • can be patient and will not be unduly stressed if the timetable is disrupted or emergencies arise
  • have read and understood our Policy On Working With Children And Young People, and will at all times comply fully with it, and can give the confirmation sought in the second bullet point in section 6 of that Policy.

3. How to volunteer

If you are willing to be asked to visit a school in your area to introduce Go, please contact the president, who is maintaining the list of volunteers.

4. How will visits be arranged?

Schools will make their request for a visit to one of our Youth Committee Officers or the UK Go Challenge organsier, 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 an Association representative, and can reclaim travel expenses from us at our standard rates. The status of Association representative and the availability of expenses apply only to each single visit arranged in this way.

5. Demeanour while in the school

5.1 General

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 our 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.

5.2 Demeanour towards pupils

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:

  • failing to remove captured stones
  • suicide
  • removing stones that have been loosely surrounded but not yet lost all their liberties
  • claiming the opponent isn't allowed to play somewhere a player thinks is his/her territory

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:

  • any greater interest on one or a few children than in the rest is likely to be regarded as suspect
  • children often find it extremely unwelcome to be singled out as especially able in the presence of their peers, as it can lead to ostracism and name-calling.

6. What you should be aiming for

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 us and they can continue learning at the pace they want.

Some ingredients for a successful session are:

  1. Plan so that the children will spend less than a quarter of the time listening to you, and more than three-quarters playing games, solving puzzles, and other forms of active involvement.
  2. Introduce one idea at a time, and briefly. Let each idea be followed by a game or an illustrative puzzle so that it sinks in and so that the children remain actively involved.
  3. While you're talking, keep an eye on the audience and be prepared to adapt to their attention span.
  4. Finish on time, including the time needed at the end for clearing away sets, giving out any handouts, and asking the children whether they enjoyed the session. Over-running would be so disruptive to the school day that the teacher would almost certainly interrupt you to prevent it, but the professional way is to know when the session is to end (ask beforehand, if necessary) and to wind the business up yourself before he feels the need to, even if you haven't covered everything you hoped to.

7. If you haven't done it before

7.1 What's it like in a school?

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.

7.2 Not confident about teaching Go

If you feel you need some advice or ideas about how to run your session, tell one of our Youth Committee members 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.

8. How we will help you

  • We will receive the requests from schools and put you in touch with them, and we will meet your travel expenses (see section 2).
  • We will provide you with as many copies as you need of the cartoon booklet Go - An Introduction by Andreas Fecke. We encourage you to give a copy to anyone who wants one, and they may make and distribute further copies on a not-for-profit basis. This booklet is also being used as the rules booklet for children taking part in the UK Go Challenge, so volunteer Go teachers are recommended to be familiar with it.
  • We will provide you with as many copies as you need of our Play Go Booklet Play Go - A few simple rules ... limitless possibilities. This is written for adults, but some children may want copies and you may give as many as are requested.
  • Subject to supply, we will provide you with as many copies as you need of the EGF's booklet Asia and the Game of Go. This is written for very young children and only teaches the capture rule, but it may be suitable for some people. You may give as many copies as are wanted.
  • We will provide you with fliers for:
    • The UK Go Challenge (includes tear-off entry form)
    • Association schools memberships (includes tear-off subscription form)
  • You, or the school that you visit, can download and print as many copies as you wish of a Certificate of Completion of an Introductory Go Workshop and give one to each person attending.
  • If you need equipment for your session, or any other help or advice, please contact one of our Youth Committee Officers.

9. UK Go Challenge

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.

Last updated Wed Feb 26 2020.
If you have any comments, please email the webmaster on web-master AT britgo DOT org.