Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Should chess be taught in school?
10 May 2011 Last updated at 05:40 ET Help It is an ancient game which was once used to teach young knights and princes about military strategy.
But should every child in Britain be expected to learn chess, while they are still at primary school?
There is growing support for the idea of putting the game on the national curriculum.
Tim Muffett reports from a primary school in Birmingham.
Watch the video report here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-13343943
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Chess clubs taking off in Frederick County
by Margarita Raycheva | Staff Writer
Forget cutting-edge video and computer games.
Some elementary school students in Frederick County are getting hooked on a board game that was created more than 1,400 years ago.
Chess, which has captivated millions of people across the world for centuries, is now getting a foothold among a growing number of Frederick County elementary school students.
At Lincoln Elementary, an after-school chess team meets Wednesdays, and at least 16 students in second through fifth grade spend hours hunched over their chess boards, perfecting their moves, honing their strategies, and learning to think ahead of their opponents.
Dressed in the chess club's blue T-shirts, which display their victories over opponents from other schools, students take pride in the game, and are always ready to learn new tips and tricks to help them win with fewer moves.
"Chess is a brain game," said second-grader Vladimir Flores. "It makes your brain strong."
The chess team at Lincoln Elementary grew out of a small recess program that started seven years ago. But the game took off among students, who started teaching their classmates and whipping out chessboards in the cafeteria after class.
Today, the chess club draws in boys and girls of all academic skills, and Janet Manning, the team advisor, has to run a different program for students who are still learning the game.
"We start from as young as kindergarten," Manning said.
Lincoln Elementary, however, is not alone, and some other elementary schools are seeing an increased interest in the brainy game, which according to some researchers can help students improve their academic performance.
At North Frederick Elementary, which started a chess club in 2009, parents and volunteers are struggling to accommodate all students who want to play chess, though more than 150 students have participated in club activities and competitions.
Yellow Springs Elementary also started a chess club last year with an initial enrollment of 45 students, said Gary Waguespack, the parent volunteer who coordinates the club.
Based on the widespread interest, chess club organizers have united their efforts this year and created the countywide Frederick Scholastic Chess League. The organization aims to promote chess across the county, provide resources for school-based chess clubs, and for the first time allow students from different Frederick County schools to play in organized tournaments.
"The idea now is to promote chess on a scholastic level," said Waguespack, who started the league after he founded the chess club at his children's school.
"I realized that there wasn't much going on with chess in the entire county," he said.
Though the league is in its developmental stages, it already includes chess teams from five schools:?Lincoln, North Frederick, Yellow Springs, Valley, and Monocacy Valley Montessori Public Charter School.
Organizers at the league now are hoping that more schools would join in for the coming year.
The league held its spring invitational competition in March, and will hold the first countywide chess tournament on June 1 at West Frederick Middle School.
Waguespack has even more ambitious long-term goals for the league. He wants to bring chess to Frederick County middle and high schools, creating opportunities for more students to use chess to expand their thinking and exercise their analytical skills.
Using chess as a scholastic tool is not a new idea, and Waguespack points to a number of chess proponents who argue that it can help improve students' concentration, memory, analytical skills and even raise test scores.
In nearly 30 countries around the world, chess is a mandatory part of school curriculum, and according to the American Chess Institute, a number of studies suggest that playing chess can be related to higher test scores for students.
A study in Texas, for example, found that non-honors elementary students who participated in school chess clubs showed twice the improvement in reading and mathematics between third and fifth grades compared to non-chess players, according to the American Chess Institute.
And in New Brunswick, Canada, when schools started using chess to teach logic in grades two through seven, the average problem solving scores of students increased from 62 percent to 81 percent, according to the American Chess Institute's website.
In Frederick County, scholastic chess is at its budding stages, but teachers, parents and volunteers agree that children benefit from the game.
For Donna Scherer, a mother at Yellow Springs Elementary, there is no doubt that being in the chess club is helping her 9-year-old son Andrew learn sportsmanship, as well as problem-solving skills and analytical thinking.
"He is in advanced math classes and I've seen improvement in his reading," Scherer said.
Andrew learned to play chess from his older brother at the age of 4, when Scherer's family lived in Britain. There, it was not unusual for elementary schools to lay out chessboards even for students in pre-school, Scherer said.
So when the chess club opened in his school, Andrew made Scherer sign him up immediately.
"He is playing with fifth-graders now," she said. "And they all love to play. It is a proud day when they get to wear that shirt."
Reina Farmer, another parent at Yellow Springs, agreed. Farmer said it is difficult to tell if her daughter Allison is getting good grades because of playing chess or the other way around. But she is confident in one thing – her daughter loves to play.
"It helps with her self-esteem," Farmer said. "She really enjoys it. She won't let me miss anything that has to do with chess."
At Lincoln Elementary, Manning has noticed that her top chess players are not always the top achievers in class. That is a great confidence booster, showing students that they can be leaders in different areas, Manning said.
The game is also teaching students to take a defeat gracefully. But while they enjoy a good win, it is not uncommon to see the two opponents sitting together after the game trying to analyze their moves and figure out what led to the defeat.
And for Manning's students, there is no doubt that playing chess is exercising their brains.
"Chess is a strategy game," said Bernadette Jones, a Lincoln Elementary fourth-grader who has been on the school chess team for two years.
"You learn to think ahead," she said.Source: http://www.gazette.net
Studies show Chess can improve academic performance
Written by Niki King
Joey Haufe, 7, and Nate Baugher, 9, sat at opposing ends of a chess board on a recent Friday at Anchorage Public School.
Joey was winning and concentrating deeply on how to finish off the game.
“He sacrificed his queen,” Joey said, explaining how he'd pulled ahead.
The two are members of the school's chess club, which competes regularly in area tournaments and meets every Friday for practice.
The club, now in its fourth year, has grown from a handful of students to about 30, and some are competing well at the state level.
The club's kindergarten team recently took fourth in the Kentucky State Championships this March, and two first-graders placed third and fifth.
Anchorage's club is reflective of a larger, resurging scholastic interest in chess, as research shows it can improve academic performance.
Emir Sefo, of Old Dorsey Place, coaches Anchorage's chess club and similar clubs at other area schools through his business, Kentucky Scholastic Chess Center.
He said there are about 35 to 40 schools in Jefferson County that offer chess.
Most, like Anchorage, offer the classic strategy board game as an extra-curricular activity or club.
Jefferson County Public Schools has a chess course for credit at two schools — Carrithers Middle and Valley High.
Sefo, who grew up playing chess in his native Bosnia, said it builds strategizing and problem-solving skills, which translate well to subjects like math and geometry.
Studies have documented improved academic performance of students who play chess compared with their non-playing peers.
Frequently cited is a study of elementary students in New York City's Bronx district, where most students were below the national average academically but chess players' reading skills improved dramatically.
“Also, you can compare it with life,” Sefo said. “Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose.”
Joey's father, Rick Haufe, said chess is something his son enjoys that's good for him.
“It's a healthy activity working with his strategic thinking,” he said. “I see it applying in other areas like his schoolwork.”
Phillip Kash, who has three children in the Anchorage chess club, said he also thinks playing chess has benefits.
“There's the discipline it takes to concentrate on a game and to think ahead,” he said.
Tanya Gupta, 11, said she first joined the chess club because her parents made her.
“Now I'm enjoying it,” she said. She said she thinks it has helped sharpen her concentration.
This is her first year, so she isn't as experienced as some of the other players, she said, but she likes the feeling of improving.
“It makes me feel good about myself because I'm pretty good at something that I just started,” she said.Source: http://www.courier-journal.com