Read what Britain’s thirteen year olds have been writing to the Prime Minister in 2013.
Dear Mr. Cameron, I am going to talk about the prospect of introducing Scrabble into schools as a part of the national curriculum. I myself am a competitive Scrabble player and I have represented Britain several times now at the World Youth Scrabble Championships, on top of this I am currently the highest rated under 18 player in the country. However, I have always noticed that youth scrabble seems to be lacking publicity in this country, and I would improve this by introducing it as a subject in schools across the country. But this is not just to improve the competitive stature of the UK: scrabble has many more benefits from an academic perspective. Ben , a teacher and educational consultant, conducted a study over a six-month period that charted middle school students’ progress after he incorporated the Scrabble game into the language arts curriculum at the School in Brookline, Massachusetts, in America. He is quoted saying: "Scrabble serves clear educational purposes in that it teaches students about a wide range of topics and engages them in discussions with their teachers, their families, and, most importantly, each other about issues that are not typically of much interest to elementary school children,” the school concluded. As well as this, following these six months, he collected statistics from the children involved: • 90% of students agreed with the statement, “My spelling has improved while in the fifth grade.” 85% of those students related this improvement to playing the Scrabble game. • 90% of students answered “yes” to the question, “Has playing Scrabble made you want to increase your vocabulary?” Furthermore, I would point out that several countries have already picked up on this idea in order to increase literacy rates, and improve numeracy skills in children: Scrabble is currently taught in primary schools in a manner satisfying the national curricula standards, in developing countries such as Nigeria, Malaysia and Thailand (In Thailand school tournaments bring up to ten thousand young players together, and they have run their program for approximately 30 years). As well as Australia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Pakistan (Dubai is also running widespread school programmes, as they are this year's host of the World Youth Scrabble Championships). These countries produce some of the best young players in the world, and I (like many) put it down to their teaching of the game in schools. Furthermore, some primary schools in the BRIC countries; China, use scrabble tiles to improve spelling, and India (as well as Indonesia), who are currently attempting to set up a school Scrabble program with the same goal: the thinking behind China's methods lies in research that has proved that many people reserve a mental image of a word rather than thinking of the actual letters that make it up; Scrabble tiles give that mental image perfectly and I think that the UK should follow the example set by these countries. In addition to this, Scrabble holds many more advantages academically; Scrabble improves one's spelling accuracy, vocabulary, knowledge of the meanings and use of words, addition and multiplication, mental math skills as well as confidence, dictionary skills, teamwork, spatial awareness, concentration span, and logical thinking. It also introduces a healthy sense of competition that will allow children to thrive later on in life. Also, it is understood that education can be more effective if children learn in a fun manner and environment, rather than those of a more traditional educational view, and can give them a more positive outlook on education in general as studied by Daniel Rea. He said "Fun is not merely for fun's sake, but for serious intellectual benefits (Rea 1999).” Scrabble also has the potential to improve children's numeracy and literacy skills as they progress into secondary education, and I would even say that this scheme would hold them in better stead for their (I)GCSE exams. I would first introduce Scrabble into primary schools with a burgeoning Scrabble extracurricular club, in years 3-6 where the children will already be competent with numeracy and literacy, as I believe that this is where we will have the most success, from the start. This could be extended to lower years (and higher ones into secondary schools) as it progresses, as I have played children as young as 6 years with amazing concentration, word knowledge, and numeracy skills. Also, I believe that (as the programme progresses) school competitions should be introduced to give children something to aspire to, and to improve the competitive youth scrabble scene, which I mentioned briefly at the beginning of this letter; hopefully, this tournament will find kids to attend the World Youth Scrabble Championships as I have for the past three years. To conclude, I would like to stress that this is a serious proposition, and I would love to see Scrabble played throughout the country as a part of the national curriculum, as I genuinely believe that it will not only improve the literacy rates of the UK and the quality of the OFSTED reports, but also the outlook that young children have on the education system. Sincerely, Jack
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