Monday, March 24, 2008

Chess in Education Part VI


As reported in this series of articles, the game of chess has long been associated with human intelligence and mental development. From its inception, chess has been an educational tool primarily due to the mental challenge it offers. In the United States, Benjamin Franklin was an early advocate of using chess in public school to develop original thinking in students and many educators support this view presently. Numerous studies argue the positive benefits of chess in the development of the cognitive process and these studies offer valid reasoning as to why chess ought to be part of school curriculum. Chess objectively increases mathematical and verbal abilities in school-aged children, and, as a side benefit, teaches invaluable lessons to students in proper planning, conceptualization/visualization, analyzing problems, weighing options, and decisive decision-making. Those chess skills confer the ability to be successful in business or a field of study for any student who chooses to apply them. Educators achieve desirable results when chess is made part of the school curriculum, in part due to the increase in standardized testing scores; however, teachers also reap the rewards of having students participate in an activity that is not only thought provoking, but also fun. Moreover, teaching students to appreciate chess in school will give these individuals a life-long pastime that continually offers a mental challenge, thereby maintaining cognitive ability and reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease substantially.

The author feels that every school, whether public or private, needs to make an investment in a chess program. The start up costs for such a program is minimal and the benefits to a student’s education are great. This makes chess an excellent value. Since the cited studies prove that chess has the greatest impact on a child’s mental development during their elementary education, chess study should be mandatory for grades Kindergarten through Sixth, and thereafter, chess should be an elective course of study. Teaching our children how to think is what chess in education is all about.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Chess in Education Part V

Chess Maintains Cognitive Ability

Chess is undeniably the world’s greatest puzzle, and as such, it is a difficult and challenging game to play. Chess is not physically demanding, but it requires a cognitive ability of the highest order and an astonishing degree of concentration to play the game well. Studies report that people with Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease derive great benefit from playing chess, and are less likely to experience a rapid mental deterioration. Patients who regularly play chess are forced to remember how the playing pieces move, and must call upon encyclopedia-like knowledge to play the opening, middle game, and end game. This mental activity will stall the degradation of cognitive ability that is a hallmark of these diseases, therefore, enabling the people who are afflicted with these disorders to enjoy a fuller life (Russell, 2006). Furthermore, Chicago, Illinois, researchers report that playing chess reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease since the game keeps the brain active, and the practitioners’ of the game are 260 percent less likely to develop the malady (Childers, 2007).