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
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.
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
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
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
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.)