SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
There is an interesting BBC article that writes about Armenia
recently making chess compulsory in schools and raises the question about whether this is the way for other countries to go. It may be fine in Armenia where chess grandmasters are treated like football stars and is closely linked with the country’s culture, but would it work in the west?
Recently the European Chess Union (ECU) has been pushing its own case ( Chess in Schools
) for including chess in the cirriculum, and even former World Champion Garry Kasparov
has joined the band-wagon. FIDE has also campaigning for chess in schools, and for some time now.
But ,surprisingly, these noble initiatives are meeting with resistance both within and out side our chess community. We inside the chess community welcome any attempt to increase the number of people playing our little game, especially among young people. So that makes us biased!
We chess players often tend to look at the whole initiative thru pink coloured eyeglasses…more of a good thing might seem like a good deal…but will forcing youngsters to learn the game increase the popularity of the game? We all know that forcing children to play physical sports does not increase the popularity of these sports! There is a big difference between ‘compulsory’ and ‘optional’.
”Apart from the practical impossibility of the idea – where are all these chess teachers going to come from? – it baffles me that some people who love the game of chess manage to persuade themselves that the way to make the public love it, too, is to make them play it.”
And therein lies the nut: are we not fooling ourselves? We have convinced ourselves that chess has one big advantage over other traditional educational tools: is it very cheap. And we are able to cite endless studies that demonstrate that teaching chess to children in groups increases their math and reading skills (at least, initially)
But, while this logic might have been true 10 years ago, today it is no longer so true. Studies have shown that Bingo and Poker also increase the reading and math skills of children. While Poker will likely never rise about its stereotype as a game of hustlers and professionals, Bingo–on the other hand–is enjoying a phenomenal surge of interest in the American school system!
Today in the US hundreds of school boards use the game of Bingo (and its many variants) as an instructional tool at the primary level and it has been very successful. Bingo is used to teach math, reading, science and other subjects. Besides, bingo is a far more social game than chess and does not require teachers to be highly qualified in Bingo–the same can not be said of chess!
Here are just a few links to investigate:
Bingo Across the Curriculum
How To Make The Game Of Bingo Work For Almost Every Subject In Your Classroom
Playing Advanced Arithmetic Bingo
—powered by eHow.com
Returning to the subject of chess and education, the question is whether chess as an instructional/educational tool has seen its glory days come and go? The world is advancing so quickly and the internet and other IT technologies have started to dictate the rules of the market: what survives and what is obsolete is no longer the consumers’ simple option.
Chess may very well work in Armenian culture (for which I have great respect), but the western world is a different apple altogether. Proponents of chess in the American school cirriculum might have simply missed the boat. No doubt chess will always have its fans and chess clubs amongst school age students, but will it ever have more visibility than that? As the Sreatham blog writes:
”But it does mean that among the reasons why it would be absurd to make chess compulsory in schools, might be this: that when they see it on the timetable, the kids may well say “Chess? What’s that?”
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS