Iowa State University College Go Class
kb: At the start of the Fall 2008 semester of Iowa State University, with the help and sponsorship of Dr. Kirk Moloney, I have begun to teach a 2-credit college class about Go. This is one of the first of its kind in the United States, and all of the funds needed for the class have been acquired through the ISU Honors College with a matching American Go Foundation grant.
So far the students have been improving by leaps and bounds, and I will be improving this page more to discuss the teaching strategy and material. For now, a link to the course website is below. Beginners and teachers will be much interested in the homeworks and syllabus.
Since the class is taught through the ISU Honors Department and since this is a university class, I am pushing the students more than I have pushed others. Therefore the homework scales somewhat quickly, with the aim being to improve students' L+D reading as the main objective, as compared to discussing theory as we typically do in the West. I believe the Asian school of thought stresses concreteness over the theoretical -- L+D is the key to this.
Although attending lectures is very important, I believe that you can teach an enthusiastic individual Go very quickly by giving them homework sets that build upon each other, rather than separating them into different topics. How else, then, will you get someone to make the connections between different topics in their mind?
One disadvantage of this class is that it only meets once per week, forcing me to write comprehensive homeworks that are concise, and by necessity, skip certain topics. Therefore I included in the syllabus the requirement of students to do outside research in order to complete the homeworks - this lets them know that I will not be giving them all of the material in lecture and discussion - and it also encourages them to not give up when they can't solve something due to not understanding the premise. There is so much English material on Go on the web now that you can look up or ask a question and get an answer readily.
I have had many people give good advice on how to start teaching Go in the first few sessions, and I have settled on starting on 9x9 and jumping directly to 19x19 after a few weeks. The idea is to get the beginners to recognize that every move relates to the whole board and once they have the realization, move to 19x19 before they get comfortable and start forming the typical bad habits of playing too much on a small board - e.g. thinking every stone's value is large in the context of the whole board. Starting on 19x19 directly encourages students to start using both sides of their brain quickly, emphasizing the creative nature of Go.