Mindsport Conference with the Grandmasters

By Royze Adolfo 

Last week, Professor Charles Nesson organized a conference with members of the International Mind Sports Association, members of Cambridge schools and parents, and representatives from the Cambridge Public Libraries in order to brainstorm ideas on to how to create an engaging interactive after-school curriculum for grade school children. In countries like the UK and Brazil, mind sports have been integrated into curriculum and now the movement seems to be making its way into the United States, or at least Professor Nesson hopes it can take firm root in Cambridge.

Along with his daughter Rebecca Nesson (Pubic Radio Exchange), Prof. Nesson invited a handful of grandmasters, including James McManus (Poker), Andy Okun (Go!), Maurice Ashley (Chess), Howard Weinstein (Bridge), and Alex Mogilyansky (10×10 Checkers) to share the value of learning about their specific mind sports. The grandmasters explained, in many interesting ways, how their mind sport helped  and transformed their lives and elaborated on the skills that kids might take away from learning how to play games. These skills include strategic thinking, discipline, etiquette, grace in defeat, collaboration, just to name a few.

Cambridge public school officials and parents weighed in on the particular student needs and shared possible ideas and approaches to integrating games into the school curriculum to help students foster good life skills. They also addressed important concerns including the possibility of developing addictions and other associated irresponsible playing practices. But the general consensus seems to be that the benefits of learning the game may outweigh the consequences which can be prevented by engineering healthy and productive playing environments.

In joining in on the conversation, Cambridge public library representatives agreed to collaborate with schools and parents in providing a venue for children to gather for after-school mind sports activities and competitions and to house literary resources that explain the games and their strategies.

Throughout the day-long conference, mind sport grandmasters expressed great enthusiasm about collaborating with schools, parents, and librarians. Many conversations regarding deployable strategies and creative teaching styles and tools during panel discussions and round table talks. Overall, it was a lively conference filled with passionate people, food for thought, and actionable goals and plans for developing a workable mind sports curriculum.

We’re looking forward to next steps!

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