School chess started out in many places as a voluntary activity in secondary school. It typically attracted bright kids, with a substantial number of them taking part in competitions and moving on to junior and club chess. As a curricular subject in primary schools, chess has to be approached and presented differently. The goal has to be for all kids to benefit. Chess must become inclusive in the broader meaning of the term.
“Inclusive promotion of giftedness” is what educational psychologist Christina Schenz calls it. According to the professor of primary education at the German University of Passau chess should be as suitable or even more suitable than mathematics to discover and promote strengths in all children of a class, because the acquisition of the game depends only to a small degree on language.
Schenz is a research partner and advisor of the project CASTLE, which has secured EU funding to develop and implement a three year chess related curriculum in primary schools in Germany, Italy and Spain and is covered on FIDE´s Chess-in-Schools website. In the early part of her academic career in her native Vienna she also became a teacher of special education to get the inside perspective, which is now very fruitful for her research and teaching. Apart from inclusion and giftedness, her research interests are on the professionalisation of teachers and on gender roles in education. Both topics are relevant to the further evolution of scholastic chess: Too few female teacher think they are up to using the game in their classroom. And chess pedagogy is only just entering the main pathway of professionalisation, which is the academic training of future teachers.