Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chess in Education - Making Kids Smarter | Chess Blog of NM William Stewart and OnlineChessLessons.NET

Chess in Education - Making Kids Smarter | Chess Blog of NM William Stewart and OnlineChessLessons.NET

Chess in Education – Making Kids Smarter


Chess Makes Kids Smarter – YES!

Not only does chess develop essential mental skills and abilities, it is also capable of doubling improvement in reading and math. The benefits of chess in schools range even farther, definitively improving social skills for children of all backgrounds – truly leveling any socioeconomic factors to encourage intellectual development on an even playing field. In today’s world of non-stop technological action and instant click satisfaction, ADD is more prevalent than ever. Due to it’s very nature, chess may serve as a cognitive and behavioral treatment for ADD by requiring unwavering attention and dedication for prolonged amounts of time. There is absolutely no doubt that the growing movement in the USA to achieve widespread institution of chess in school curricula will achieve exponential educational benefit.

Gary Kasparov’s Chess Foundation

Former World Champion GM Garry Kasparov has committed to personally ensuring this incredible resource is utilized to the fullest. He has tireless campaigned in the United States to insert chess in teaching plans, and recently turned his attention to similar implementation in the European school systems. His success in the US has been demonstrated in New Jersey, New York, and more. His latest efforts in Europe have been very warmly received and the details are being ironed out to begin a European-wide chess education program. For more information on how to get involved, please visit the Kasparov Chess Foundation.

Susan Polgar’s Foundation for Chess Excellence

Former World Champion GM Susan Polgar is extremely active in the United States by constantly pushing chess promotion to new limits, especially with respect to young women. Polgar dreams of making chess so popular that it competes with other sports, like tennis, baseball and football. “We hope to get many more colleges to start offering scholarships for chess,” she says. “And we are working to promote chess as a grassroots movement in some of the smaller cities.” The mission of the Susan Polgar Foundation is to promote chess, with all its educational, social, and competitive benefits throughout the United States, for young people of all ages, especially girls. For more information on how to get involved, please visit the Susan Polgar Foundation.

Relevant Research

A youngster taking part in a chess program develops critical thinking; logic, reasoning and problem solving abilities; memory, concentration and visualization skills; confidence; patience; determination; poise; self‑expression; and good sportsmanship. And perhaps more importantly, children who participate in the program improve their self‑esteem.

Excerpt from “Chess is the Gymnasium of the Mind”

…the game is fairly democratic. You need a
certain build to try out for the football team or a certain amount of money to play golf, but
chess cuts across racial, economic and gender barriers. All you need, besides an opponent,
is a board and 32 pieces.

Excerpt from Evan Levy’s “Check Mates” Time Magazine article

Funding for chess activity is available under the “educate America Act” (Goals 2000), Public Law 103-227, Section 308.b.2.E.: “Supporting innovative and proven methods of enhancing a teacher’s ability to identify student learning needs and motivating students to develop higher order thinking skills, discipline, and creative resolution methods.”

In a Texas study, regular (non-honors) elementary students who participated in a school chess club showed twice the improvement of non-chessplayers in Reading and Mathematics between third and fifth grades on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills.

The Venezuela “Learning to Think Project”, which trained 100,000 teachers to teach thinking skills, and which involved a sample of 4,266 second grade students, reached a general conclusion that chess, methodologically taught, is an incentive system sufficient to accelerate the increase of IQ in elementary age children of both sexes at all socio-economic levels. (B)

Excerpted from “Why Chess” at
Similarly, a 5‑year study of 7th and 8th graders by Robert Ferguson of the Bradford, PA School District showed that test scores improved 17.3% for students regularly engaged in chess classes, compared with only 4.56% for children participating in other forms of “enrichment activities” including Future Problem Solving, Dungeons and Dragons, Problem Solving with Computers, independent study, and creative writing. A Watson‑Glaser Thinking Appraisal evaluation showed overwhelmingly that chess improved critical thinking skills more than the other methods of enrichment.

Jo Bruno, Principal, P.S. 189, ‑Brooklyn, NY:. “In‑chess tournaments the child gets the opportunity of seeing more variety and diversity. There are kids who have more money than they have, but chess is a common denominator. They are all equal on the chessboard. I believe it is connected academically and to the intellectual development of children. I see them able to attend to something for more than an hour and a half. I am stunned. Some of them could not attend to things for more than 20 minutes.”

Excerpted from New York City Schools Chess Program by Christine Palm, 1990

Adrian de Groot, a psychologist in the 1960′s became very interested in the use of chess as an educational tool. He began studying the thinking behavior of chess players in Russia. In particular he observed that there was a significant difference in approach between those who were highly skilled and experienced in chess to those who were new to the game. Initially de Groot assumed that the Grandmaster’s superiority lay in their ability to organize well and to memorize concrete lines of play. What de Groot found was quite different: Grandmasters did not rely on superior memory skills. Grandmasters were not any better at recalling randomly placed pieces than novice chess players were. The Grandmaster however was able to take actual chess positions and in an astonishing 5 seconds recognize a complex chess configuration and decide on a successful move. How were the GM’s able to give accurate, well thought out evaluations in so little time? It seemed that GM’s (but not novices) were able to recognize familiar configurations, and associating them with appropriate moves and plans.

Excerpted from “Role of Chess in Modern Education” By Marcel Milat

“An act concerning instruction in chess and supplementing Chapter 35 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes. Be it enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

  • 1) The Legislature finds and declares that:
    • a) chess increases strategic thinking skills, stimulates intellectual creativity, and improves problem-solving ability, while raising self-esteem;
    • b) when youngsters play chess they must call upon higher-order thinking skills, analyze actions and consequences, and visualize future possibilities;
    • c) in countries where chess is offered widely in schools, students exhibit excellence in the ability to recognize complex patterns and consequently excel in math and science; and
    • d) instruction in chess during the second grade will enable pupils to learn skills which will serve them throughout their lives.
  • 2) Each board of education may offer instruction in chess during the second grade for pupils in gifted and talented and special education programs. The department of Education may establish guidelines to be used by boards of education which offer chess instruction in those programs.

Excerpt from Senate Bills #S452 and #A1122.

By Chess Coach Will Stewart (USCF 2256, FIDE 2234)

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