Why should we encourage bridge in Schools?
As we know, bridge is terrific fun. It is something that children of all ages really enjoy once they try it. They love working things out, discovering how to make the most of the cards, and of course they love winning, It is also an educating team activity, helping kids to cope with defeat and victory, and to learn that mistakes are part of life. As an intellectual challenge, bridge is unsurpassed, posing continuous problems to be solved, involving elements of logical reasoning, probability analysis and decision-making. One of its greatest virtues is that it develops skills which benefit children in their future lives: young people can develop a sense of achievement and understand the value of working steadily towards a goal, the need to co-operate with a partner, to share information and to combine as a team to compete effectively.
For an overview about minibridge and its educational and social benefits, see http://www.ebu.co.uk/minibridge/educational-implications and http://www.ebu.co.uk/minibridge
Repeated studies around the world have shown the sort of enhancement which bridge can bring to the classroom. A study commissioned by the EBU at St Paul’s School in Manchester showed that bridge and minibridge taught skills in numeracy, problem-solving, probability, speaking, listening, rule-following, team building, mental capacity and much more. At the time of the St Paul’s study, David Milliband, then Minister of State for Schools Standards said, “Innovations such as Minibridge are to be encouraged…it was a pleasure to witness primary school children’s complete concentration, whilst so obviously enjoying playing a game that is proven to improve their school learning ability.”
For an examination of this phenomenon in an American context, see http://www.acbl.org/statisticallyspeaking.pdf
Sir Peter Williams’ report for the Department of Children Schools and Families (Independent Review of Mathematics Teaching in Early Years Settings and Primary Schools) presents the case for what is going wrong with Maths teaching in schools today, and what can be done to put it right. Within his report, Sir Peter states:
“The foremost concern, drawn from Ofsted and Primary National Strategy (PNS) findings, is the need to strengthen teaching that challenges and enables children to use and apply mathematics (UAM) more often, and more effectively, than is presently the case in many schools […] A closely allied concern is that too little attention is paid to building good attitudes to mathematics. Clearly, if children’s interests are not kindled through using and applying mathematics in interesting and engaging ways, and through learning across the full mathematics curriculum, they are unlikely to develop good attitudes to the subject.” (p. 62)
Most recently, in France, the Ministry of Education has specifically identified bridge as a route towards rekindling interest in mathematics as a subject among schoolchildren.
Of course, bridge is not only for the privileged minority. As reported in the Times Educational Supplement, at a junior school in Grimsby, a group of 10 youngsters studied minibridge for one term, following which they showed a 35% increase in their marks for maths in their SATS results. And this was at a school in a deprived area where minibridge was introduced as an Educational Action Zone initiative
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