How is Chess a metaphor for the Cold War?
How can chess be used to explain the key figures involved in the Cold War?
In this REAL Project, year 9 students at School 21 were asked to take on the role of a sculptor that has been commissioned to create a game of chess that can be used to explain key figures involved in the Cold War and their significance in terms of international relations between the USSR and the USA.
Student were allocated a key figure which they gave a significance rating that links with a corresponding chess piece. For example, if Stalin was given 5/5, he would be the equivalent of a King in the game of chess – see code below. The final outcome is presented as though a game of chess is being played in a cabinet war room.
Significance Ratings code*:
1 = Pawn
2 = Knight, Bishop
3 = Rook
4 = Queen
5 = King
*There is much deliberation in the game of chess over the value of chess pieces so this code cannot be definitive. Which piece do you think is most valuable?
- International relations between the USSR and the West during the Cold War (History GCSE Edexcel Cold War Topic 1,2 and 3).
- Studying the work of Honoré Daumier and his satirical sculptures of the ruling political class in the 1800s.
- Understanding general proportion of the head.
- Learning how to exaggerate features and personality through caricature.
- Sculpting the bust using clay and painting features using acrylics.
- Colour-mixing to achieve Daumier’s colour palette for painting sculptures and caricatures.
“This project has been a pleasure to work on because the students were clearly excited by the medium and it’s potential. Having taught the same students for three years, I was impressed by the level of independence and commitment to producing high quality work, showing a level of maturity that is pleasing to witness. The results are very impressive and reflect the grit and craftsmanship they have shown throughout” – Mr Hoeben.
“Throughout this project, the dedication to craftsmanship that the students have shown has been impressive. I worked with the students to produce caricatures of the key figures from the Cold War for their Caricature Cards. The students showed craftsmanship by drawing and re-drafting the figures that they were assigned to, before exaggerating their features and turning them into caricatures. The results reflect their hard work and dedication” – Ms Roberts.
“I learned a great deal about the Cold War such as its impact globally, as well as in space. I also learned skills necessary to create a clay sculpture and developed my artistic skills through the practice of making caricatures” – Laura.
“ I have enjoyed seeing how people have expressed their creativity and put it in their sculptures, having characters who we have studied transformed into absurd caricatures. On top of this, I have enjoyed working with clay because, although it is difficult to get used to, it is much more free and changeable” – Ifte.
“The highlight of the project was finishing both of the sculptures and having them painted. This was because it was a real show of my effort in the project and how, if I work hard, it can culminate in a piece of work I am extremely proud of. Furthermore, this was my favourite piece of work from the entire year, and to have seen all the critiquing and hard work end up in this piece of work means that it was my highlight” – Marcella.
“I really struggled with the caricature part of the project because I wasn’t used to painting with the watercolours and exaggerating the features of the characters as I was used to just copying the picture. Therefore this was challenging because instead of just copying from a picture, you have to use your own imagination to exaggerate it which I struggled with and had to make several drafts” – Chloe.
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