Unit Education Liaison and Novice Coordinator
According to the WUMBA bylaws, the functions of this position are to:
1. Supervise educational activities.
2. Recommend programs and activities aimed at improving the skills of novice bridge players.
In keeping with these mandates, and for the purpose of discussion, I propose that we consider adoption of the following goals and activities:
1. Establish a committee of two members who are dedicated to carrying out the above-mentioned functions.
2. Designate funds for the planning, implementation, and coordination of educational programs.
3. Establish a system for communication of up-coming educational offerings to all novice and intermediate level WUMBA members.
4. Encourage duplicate bridge clubs to establish mentorship programs at the local level.
5. Offer teacher certification programs, in conjunction with selected regional and/or sectional tournaments, in order to increase the affordability and accessibility of these programs to prospective bridge teachers, and to encourage teacher certification.
6. Increase the number of educational offerings, especially in underserved areas of Wisconsin and the U.P.
7. Assist the Membership Committee with recruitment of new members by promotion of bridge as a lifelong skill, and by offering bridge classes to targeted groups.
8. Investigate the possibility of providing bridge classes by teaming up with other organizations, which currently offer recreational or continuing education programs. This could include organizations such as city and/or county government (i.e. Summer recreation programs), Y.M.C.A.’s, Senior Centers, and the Wisconsin Area Technical College’s Adult Education Program.
9. Begin offering bridge classes to middle and/or high school age students, possibly as part of an after school or extra-curricular activity, at some time in the future. We need to vastly increase the number of certified bridge teachers in order for this to become a realistic goal.
Current Status: Committee
1. Bylaws identify the “Unit Education Liaison and Novice Committee” as a standing committee of WUMBA.
2. At the present time, this is a one-person committee.
1. Form a committee of two persons committed to meeting the mandates of this committee.
Current Status: Bridge Education
1. According the ACBL website, we have approximately eleven certified bridge teachers living within the WUMBA boundries. Seven of these certified instructors have been identified as having active teaching programs.
2. Non-certified instructors are also offering bridge classes.
3. One instructor has recently been certified to offer teacher certification classes.
1. Strive to increase the number of certified teachers within the WUMBA area by offering teacher certification programs prior to, or in conjunction with selected WUMBA sectional/regional tournaments.
2. Budget WUMBA funds for teacher training and for educational supplies and materials. Utilize the funds to help make these programs more affordable to prospective bridge teachers and to help offset some of their startup costs.
3. Encourage members living in areas lacking certified teachers to consider enrolling in a teacher certification program.
4. As the number of certified bridge teachers begins to increase, begin reaching out to target groups within our communities with offers to help party bridge players improve their skills, and to encourage non-playing members among the general public to learn the game.
Current Status: Communication/Coordination of information regarding bridge classes
1. Only very limited information exists as to where or when bridge classes are being held and to the specific focus of existing educational offerings.
1. Survey certified teachers and request information about their upcoming classes.
2. Encourage teachers to regularly keep us apprised of their upcoming educational offerings.
3. Contact the editors of “WUMBA NEWSLETTER” and “I/N News…especially for you!” and request that they include information about upcoming classes in these newsletters that are distributed to all beginning and intermediate players who are members of WUMBA.
Status: Recruitment/retention of new duplicate bridge players
1. Although I do not have any statistical information, I have personally witnessed the fact that newer players and potential ACBL members quit attending duplicate sessions because they are unable to compete in this setting.
2. Informal surveys suggest that some of our newer members were made to feel “stupid’ and unwelcome when they first started playing duplicate bridge. I have heard reports about disparaging remarks made about their lack of playing skills, about the difficulties they had finding partners, and about the fact that many members made it known that they did not want to play with them.
1. Encourage clubs to initiate mentorship programs for the newer, less experienced players.
2. Encourage directors to help make their membership more sensitive to the feelings of novice players.
3. Encourage clubs to offer assistance to these newer players in order to help them to improve their skills. This assistance might include the offering of mini-lessons prior to some games, or through sessions in which the bidding, play and defense of one or two hands is analyzed after the completion of play.
4. Begin offering more separate events for beginning and intermediate players at all WUMBA tournaments. These events could include not only separate “299er”, “199er”, and “99er” games, but also free lessons and social events.
Summary and additional remarks:
I have tried to summarize the current status of several factors affecting bridge education, and novice and newer players. I am working from my perspective, and have not conducted any in-depth research study to arrive at these conclusions. I have, however, informally surveyed many players from throughout the WUMBA area, as well as from across other parts of the U.S. and Canada. Players surveyed were primarily those I have competed against while playing in regional and sectional tournaments. I have also done some brainstorming and come up with a number of goals and activities. Two things are very clear to me. The first is that it is impossible for any one person, working alone, to implement these activities and to achieve these goals. The second is that we need to vastly increase the number of certified bridge teachers before we will be able to significantly increase our educational offerings.
I believe, that at this time, we may have a window of opportunity for the recruitment and education of non-players to the game of bridge. Demographically, the baby-boom generation is beginning to retire and is looking for meaningful ways in which to fill many hours of increased leisure time. At the other end of the age spectrum, research studies have been done that show that academic performance has been enhanced in students who have been taught to play bridge. When I have asked how we can recruit younger players into the game, I have invariably been told that we need to start teaching bridge in our schools. I believe that there is at least a certain degree of support for introducing bridge to middle and high school students, especially among duplicate players and some retired middle and high school teachers.
In conclusion, I am very interested in your feedback, your support, and in any suggestions that you might have for this committee. At this time, our greatest need is for you to support our request for the designation of the funds necessary to recruit and train more bridge teachers. In addition, I am interested in any help you can provide in identifying players who might be interested in teaching the game of bridge. We are not asking you to commit any significant amount of time, but rather, to help spread the word and inform your club members, especially your novice and intermediate players, about the activities that have been planned for them. Last of all, we need to recruit more players to the game of duplicate bridge. I suspect that the average age of duplicate players in many of our clubs and tournaments keeps increasing. I believe that we need to make a concerted effort to bring new players into our game. I also believe that the potential exists for us to reach out to large numbers of the non-bridge playing public, at a reasonable cost, if we are able to team up with other organizations that sponsor classes of a recreational nature. There is a lot of work ahead, and change will probably come slowly, but I believe that by working together, these goals will be achievable within the next five to tem years.
Unit Education Liaison and Novice Committee