For one of our recent enquiries we used 2 chess pieces – a knight and a bishop – as our starting points. We have been working on identifying concepts and we came up with the following concepts from the chess pieces:
Art – moulded, carved, are the pieces the same if they come from the same mould?
Reality – controlled chess pieces having certain moves
State / Religion – knight and bishop
Class – certain pieces have more power
Winning and Losing
Black and white
Some of the questions were:
Why does the King have more power than the Queen?
If something has more power than another, does it automatically favour things of a higher standard?
Why black and white and not blue and red?
Is Chess racist because it’s black against white?
Do bigger people control us like in chess?
Why does white always go first – is white better?
Are Kings more important than Knights?
What would chess pieces do if they were alive?
Why do they have to move in certain directions?
The question chosen was “Is Chess racist because it’s black against white?”. The discussion raised some interesting points about perception of colour and people’s ideas of black and white being opposites in things like stories. The children also brought up issues from history where black and white people were treated differently. Some folk felt that black and white had no other significance other than them being easier to tell apart and produce. In the end, the general consensus was that they didn’t feel racist while playing chess, and that there was not a racist element to chess. Racism though was something they felt did exist and something which they disagreed with.