Why chess should be required in US schools

4/17/2013 – That is the banner headline of a lead story in the Pacific Standard, which tells, in a compelling video, how a three-million-soul nation like Armenia is using chess to teach children basic life skills. The same trend can be witnessed all over the world, including Britain, where thousands of pupils from inner-city primary schools are to receive lessons in chess in a £700,000 taxpayer-funded programme.

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Worldwide, chess is still a popular game, but it is treated with particular seriousness in Eastern Europe. In September 2011, Armenia made chess a required subject for all children over the age of six. (In the DW-TV news clip below, the children are in 2nd grade.)

Indeed, the Armenians may be on to something. One recent psychology study found that chess was associated with greater “cognitive abilities, coping and problem-solving capacity, and even socioaffective development of children.” Of course, because it was a cohort (observational) study, the link could be due to some third factor or the possibility that smart, mature children are more inclined to play chess in the first place.

In the above video, the math/chess teacher says, “Chess trains logical thinking. It teaches how to make decisions, trains memory, strengthens will power, motivates children to win, and teaches them how to deal with defeat. It’s the only school subject that can do all of this.”

That is a very interesting insight. Not only does chess help train the brain, but it also teaches children basic life skills. In our culture, we hand out trophies to winners and losers – or neglect to keep score at all – out of some misguided, politically-correct notion that we should never hurt anyone’s feelings. But, in Armenia, schools are teaching children reality: Sometimes you lose. That’s an important lesson, and it should be taught at a young age.

That is a very interesting insight. Not only does chess help train the brain, but it also teaches children basic life skills. In our culture, we hand out trophies to winners and losers – or neglect to keep score at all – out of some misguided, politically-correct notion that we should never hurt anyone’s feelings. But, in Armenia, schools are teaching children reality: sometimes you lose. That’s an important lesson, and it should be taught at a young age.

Americans are concerned that our children aren’t receiving a solid K-12 education. Perhaps chess should be introduced into the curriculum as a fun way to teach logic and memory?

Source: Pacific Standard


In Armenia, learning to play the grand game of strategy in school is mandatory for children – the only country in the world that makes chess compulsory – and the initiative has paid dividends. Armenia, a Caucasus country with a population of just three million, is a chess powerhouse.

In 2011, Armenia made chess compulsory for second, third and fourth-graders. That's why Susie and her classmates have two hours of chess every week in school. For an hour, the students playfully engaged in one-on-one matches against each other. "Chess is having a good influence on their performance in other subjects too. The kids are learning how to think, it's making them more confident," said teacher Rosanna Putanyan, watching her pupils play from the periphery.

The chess initiative is not only meant to scout young talent but also build a better society. Armen Ashotyan, Armenia's education minister, told Al Jazeera the project is aimed at fostering creative thinking. "Chess develops various skills – leadership capacities, decision-making, strategic planning, logical thinking and responsibility," Ashotyan said. "We are building these traits in our youngsters. The future of the world depends on such creative leaders who have the capacity to make the right decisions, as well as the character to take responsibility for wrong decisions."

More than $3m has been spent on the project so far to supply chess equipment and learning aids in all Armenian schools, Ashotyan added. The majority of the budget was allocated to train chess players to become good teachers. In coming years, spending on chess is expected to rise, he said.

Source: Al-Jazeera


 

“A few schools like government higher secondary school in Sholinganallur have already introduced the game among students. We expect the game to be made mandatory from the ensuing academic year as CM wants to develop this game,” said Dr N. Vijayan, principal and correspondent of Zion group of schools and president of Kancheepurm District Chess Association.

The government has also decided to assess student’s skills in the royal game and award marks for their achievements which would add up to the final marks as part of continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE). “The CCE marks will also be considered for promotion,” he added.

With chess being made compulsory in Tamil Nadu schools, soon we can expect children to use the terms like Ruy Lopez, Sicilian Defence and stalemate liberally as they use the cricketing terms like LBW, square cut and bouncer today, aver chess enthusiasts.

Source: Deccan Chronicle


The scheme will target 10-year-olds in 100 schools to test the impact that chess has on pupils’ abilities across a range of academic disciplines. Experts believe that the game – which is already part of the curriculum in some other countries – can dramatically improve pupils’ levels of concentration, boost problem-solving skills and develop their thought processes. It is also claimed that chess can boost numeracy levels with knock-on benefits across other subjects. But figures suggest that fewer than one-in-10 pupils in state schools currently get access to chess at school, placing them at a disadvantage compared with privately-educated peers.

Today, the Education Endowment Foundation – a Government-funded charity established to help boost standards among poor pupils – announced the award of a £689,000 grant to help spread the game in state primary schools. The funding will be handed to the charity Chess in Schools and Communities to stage special lessons in primaries across Liverpool, Bristol and Manchester.

Source: The Telegraph

For more information on the initiative check out the following foundations that are driving the initiative:


The majority of studies that link chess to academic attainment have been carried out abroad and included self-selecting intervention groups. However a randomised controlled trial was carried out in Italy and this showed that chess had an impact on maths attainment. The EEF will be testing the programme as a randomised controlled trial, with 50 schools receiving the intervention in one year and 50 acting as a control group. Those in the control group will receive the intervention in the following academic year. Pupils’ mathematical abilities will be tested before and after the intervention.

Source: The British Psychological Society

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