Teaching Kids Chess - one approach to solving the world's problems

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posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 01:46 PM
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Chess mania captures Armenia's attention

Small Caucasus country is the first in the world to make chess mandatory in schools, aiming to build a better society.


This article is extraordinary; and is quite thought-provoking. I was taught chess as a little kid, by my grandfather, like the girl in the article. He was a grand-master of some sort, and I've played the game off and on throughout my whole half-century since then. We have 3 Chess sets in our home.

I hadn't really thought about Chess as a way of teaching young children better creative thinking, problem-solving, or social skills.
But, here it is!

"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.

Education project

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."

...

Developing mental capacities

A team of Armenian psychologists headed by Ruben Aghuzumstyan has been researching the impact of chess on young minds since last year.

Aghuzumstyan said preliminary results show that children who play chess score better in certain personality traits such as individuality, creative thinking, reflexes and comparative analysis.

"During the first few years of school, children are equipped to learn with games. So for kids who are seven, eight and nine, learning is better through games, and chess is an optimised game which develops a lot of areas of the brain," Aghuzumstyan said.

The psychologist, who is also a member of the Armenian Chess Federation, said chess improves social skills as well as mental strength.

Huh! Brain-training is one of my favorite subjects, especially how it works in kids, from pre-birth on. It's not news that baby brains emerge from the womb with more neurons than they will ever again have as "pruning" takes place and the brain adapts to its environment.

Further, there are "windows of opportunity" that, once past, can't be opened again. Some of the examples of this are in language learning - for instance, a newborn CAN learn any language at all, but after a certain time period, the brain actually reroutes some of the synapses that are not used in a certain language -
even inability to hear the sounds used in other languages. (Hence the classic use of R instead of L when Chinese and other Asian people speak English learned later in life).

This is true for all behaviors and intelligences. A baby born in the Amazonian jungle has different needs as to skills to survive than, say, a baby born in London, or in Wichita. This is why it's SO IMPORTANT to recognize a child's natural style of learning to begin with, and the responsibility of adults to recognize that style and adapt to it.

A baby may particularly like music, or touch, or visual stimulation, or hearing - thus 'multi-media' approaches to education have developed. Ignoring a child's natural innate learning style can be crippling to them. But there is plenty of research readily available online and elsewhere about this ....

to get back to the topic, what do you guys think about "mandatory chess lessons"?
It reminds me a bit of Plato's Republic, where he discusses music and gymnastic as crucial for early learners as their personalities develop.

Not many Americans in my experience know how to play chess; and those who do definitely show adeptness at certain critical thinking skills. These are the sorts of skills that can help lead the world to a more peaceable place. I had no idea that it was such a "craze" in Eastern Europe and elsewhere....
and although it says in the article that it's a subject offered in the US, Britian, etc ( it is? I never heard of Chess elective!
) I think it's impressive that Armenia is making it mandatory.

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.

The initiative is also attracting attention from other countries. Later this year, chess will be integrated into the national curriculum of Hungary's elementary schools. Countries such as Moldova, Ukraine and Spain are showing interest in running similar projects.

In Britain, the United States, Switzerland, India, Russia and Cuba schools have long offered chess as a subject, though no nationwide legislation making it compulsory exists.

Good on them.
Thoughts? Is this a viable strategy for building world leaders? Or more useful in simply grooming grand-master players? For my part, I like it.

(Mods, if this is in the wrong forum, I trust you'll move it.)




posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 01:51 PM
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I wasn't aware that they took chess out of school. When did they do that? I was on the chess team in school a long long time ago. It is a great mind exercise.



posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 01:54 PM
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reply to post by jimmiec
 


Well, I know they have extra-curricular clubs and such, but never saw it as an actual elective "class". Hmmm. What is your general location?



posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 02:06 PM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 
I think that teaching children to play chess is wonderful. I learned to play chess in the 2nd grade and my children learned before they ever started school. It is good for teaching children the use of long term strategy and critical thinking. In this current age of instant gratification I think chess should be taught as a required class so that kids can learn how to look at the "bigger picture" in a fun way.



posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 02:09 PM
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reply to post by littled16
 


I agree.

I'm not a bit surprised that ATS members know the game. How many people, do you estimate, in our society know how to play the game? My kids know how, too. As does my husband, and at least one of my nephews....

(Your Easter-ish avatar ROCKS!! Now, those are "cabbits"! I have a manx, btw )
edit on 25-3-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 02:15 PM
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We never had a chess class in school, and we were blue ribbon all the way. You could network between students and teachers to lobby the administration to open up a club for chess.

I first learned chess from my father and brother who was 3 years my senior. My father stopped playing after we started beating him. I didn't beat my older brother in a single game until we were both adults. I play decent at the club level.

I can say that I excelled in the maths and sciences, but am not sure causation can be attributed here. People who are fascinated by and enjoy playing the game, tend to excel at some or all academics.
edit on 25-3-2013 by CommanderCraCra because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 02:24 PM
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reply to post by CommanderCraCra
 


People who are fascinated by and enjoy playing the game, tend to excel at some or all academics.

Well, there we go, then! Add to that responsibility, critical thinking, and so forth, and we have a winner idea!



posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 02:36 PM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 
Thanks for the compliment! I just love the cabbits!

Most of the people I know in RL play chess. I live in a very storm prone area (hurricanes, tropical storms) where it's not unusual for the lights to be out for long periods of time so we keep up with "old school" forms of entertainment (chess, checkers, dominoes, all kinds of card games, board games, etc.) even when the lights are on. We are very competitive so we all stay in regular practice.



posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 02:44 PM
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Chess is the most complex board strategy games you can play. It was the grand challenge of for computing researchers in AI to have software that could match a grand master. BYTE magazine used to really catch this research (July 1977 is the most quoted):

malus.exotica.org.uk...
maben.homeip.net...

There's no other better way to learn about "thinking ahead" and realizing that there are consequences to every action that you make. Thinking about what the best and worst moves that you could make, then what the best and worst moves your opponent could make in response, then repeating that 50+ times further into the future really blew my mind. I visualize that as seeing rows and rows of chess boards and pieces going all the way to the horizon..



posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 02:51 PM
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reply to post by stormcell
 


Thanks for your post! Yes, it is apparent to me how it applies to thinking ahead..."mind games", kinda sorta.
Your links aren't working for me.



posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 03:12 PM
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Black against white?

I'm not sure that's a great way to start solving the world's problems!

I'm joking, chess is great. I learned it when I was 4 and now, well, I'm way too smart to fit into society...

thanks a lot!



posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 03:20 PM
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There's a joke in the chess world, which includes a quote Kasparov made some time back.

He was asked how many moves he looked ahead.

The response was rather insightful, "Just one. The best one".

That was always my folly. Following moves too far in advance, which never played through. Now, I focus more on that just one best next move.

BTW, if anyone would like a challenge, u2u, and I'll get a board setup for us.
edit on 25-3-2013 by CommanderCraCra because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 03:23 PM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 


Thoughts? Is this a viable strategy for building world leaders? Or more useful in simply grooming grand-master players? For my part, I like it.

Chess is good for all those mind training goals. It is a win or die lesson on a one to one basis only though. Once you agree to play, you agree to play to the bitter end. Its a holdover from the days of castles and rulers that used people as pawns. I would balance chess play with the more modern lessons of RISK.


players often form unofficial treaties for various reasons, such as safeguarding themselves from attacks on one border while they concentrate their forces elsewhere, or eliminating a player who has grown too strong. Because these agreements are not enforceable by the rules, these agreements are often broken. Alliance making/breaking can be one of the most important elements of the game, and it adds human interaction to a decidedly probabilistic game.

The goal in both is to conquer your neighbor (the world in the case of RISK). Diplomacy and the broken treaties and lies associated with that are best exemplified in RISK.



posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 03:37 PM
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People touting chess as a marvelous way to develop thinking or social skills makes me laugh harder than people who promote video games as a wonderful way to develop eye/hand coordination.



posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 03:46 PM
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reply to post by intrptr
 


I would balance chess play with the more modern lessons of RISK.

Yeah, I was thinking of adding RISK to the thread, too!



posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 03:49 PM
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reply to post by Blue Shift
 



People touting chess as a marvelous way to develop thinking or social skills makes me laugh harder than people who promote video games as a wonderful way to develop eye/hand coordination.

Obviously you don't know how to play Chess and have an issue with people who do. Laugh it up, bud!!

What do you know about kids' brains? You a parent? Sociologist? Neuroscientist?



posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 03:52 PM
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I have had occasion to meet many Armenians in my time and almost without exception strike me as some of the best thinkers around.

Truly amazing culture.

When they say something makes sense, I have a tendency to look very closely.

Whatever they are doing, they seem to be doing it right, imo.
edit on 25-3-2013 by loam because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 03:54 PM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 


The science makes it pretty clear that most of these "studies" are biased.

There is no "blank slate". It mostly comes down to genetics.

He has a pretty good point.

The kinds of individuals who gravitate, and end up mastering the game of chess tend to already have the potential within them, yet perform poorly in social situations.

The fallacy is one of confusing correlation with causation.



posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 03:55 PM
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reply to post by loam
 


Hmmm!! I'll have to look further into their culture. Interesting.

There is just so much to learn in this world, and so many people and cultures to learn about....
I've never met an Armenian, but they sound like they have their stuff together.
Thanks for posting!



posted on Mar, 25 2013 @ 03:56 PM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 


I agree, chess is a great learning tool - I, also, was going to add RISK to the thread.

I'd like to add that chess is very popular in prison - the convicts love it, and spend hours perfecting their thinking.
Anyone who works in a prison, knows this.





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