Chess in Education: A Perspective
Kids love chess! If you are a kid, you already knew that. It’s a no-brainer. If you are a parent or teacher, you might be surprised. But it’s true. Boys and girls really like chess. And not just a little bit, but a lot.
Most kids like chess because it is both fun and challenging. Chess is easy to learn, and there is always room for growth. Of course winning a chess game is great, but losing also has its rewards.
Several studies have shown that students who play chess as a school-related activity consistently score appreciably higher than non-chess students on intelligence tests. Very often this translates into better grades in math and reading. Why? The same skills required to play a good game of chess are required to do well in the classical school subjects: trial and error inference, hypothesizing, deducing, logical reasoning, and judgment.
One very good study, The Effect of Chess Instruction on Emotional Intelligence, conducted in 1999 by Speeth and Margulies of Columbia University, summarized the benefits of chess for students this way: “...chess instruction and chess play develop the attitudes and insights that make up emotional intelligence. Chess students must learn how to keep calm under pressure. The best strategy is to keep on trying even if the position looks bad. Chess players feel they can win if they work at it. They build confidence about their ability to tackle obstacles and succeed.”
Recently, I asked a group of eighth graders at an all-girl's school in East Harlem what they had learned from playing chess. I think they gave some really good answers. But you should judge for yourself.
Megan said that chess had taught her to “really focus and be determined to accomplish things in my life, sort of like in a chess game. And to be a winner and not a loser, but if I lose to try again.”
Elizabeth said that playing chess had taught her to look at herself in a different way. “Sometimes I bring out my strong pieces first, when I feel sure of myself. Other times I keep them back and play more carefully, when I am less sure of myself.”
Christine said, “In chess and in life you have to think about your actions. Where are they leading? What are the consequences? For example, in chess you have to protect your king, or you will lose. In life, that has taught me to protect the things that are important to me.”
So, there you have it, the words of the experts. But maybe you have something you would like to add. Here is your big chance...What do you like most about chess? Email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org#