Chess lessons are mandatory in primary education, does this help children in their development?

Chess lessons are mandatory in primary education, does this help children in their development?

He studied chess at the Global Bridge School in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.Anush Babianjan’s photo

9-year-old Arman’s eyes begin to sparkle, because from now on he knows for sure: Elizabeth, the 8-year-old blonde girl who is focused in front of him, has absolutely no chance. He looked at her again, and extended his hands to deliver the final blow, but suddenly Master Edgar’s stern voice rang out: “Now is not the time, Armand. Don’t let your emotions guide you. Use your head.”

Then Elizabeth whispered, “Look closely at his icon.”

Since 2011, Armenia has been the only country in the world where chess is a compulsory part of primary education. This means that all children in the second, third and fourth grades – about 50,000 students a year – receive two hours per week of chess lessons at the school, taught by three thousand specially trained chess teachers.

What the Dutch have in skates, and the Armenians in chess, Edgar Meginyan, one of those three thousand, says as he races in class 317 at Global Bridge School in the Armenian capital Yerevan and the sixteen students present. Turn around to give tips. On the cover of the queen’s suite.

He studied chess at the Global Bridge School in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.  Anush Babianjan's photo

He studied chess at the Global Bridge School in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.Anush Babianjan’s photo

Since Tigran Petrosyan, better known as Iron Tigran, won the world title in 1963 and sparked a general chess wave in the Soviet Republic (important matches are now broadcast on screens in large arenas), the sport has taken off in this part of the Caucasus. Armenia is still the country with the largest number of chess masters per capita, after small countries such as Monaco and Andorra.

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So it was no surprise that Serzh Sargsyan, then-president of the Armenian Chess Federation, reacted with great enthusiasm when Grand Master Smbat of Putian first told him in 2005 about a new and ground-breaking idea for their country: Let’s play chess. An official part of the curriculum.

Lpoetjan himself, winner of the 2006 International Chess Olympiad and director of almost all chess and mathematics federations in Armenia, seems proud as he tells this story. Chess has many unique qualities. He says.

Besides the potential positive effects on math education—children who play chess will take on math more easily—according to Boyetgan, chess also helps children with analysis, reasoning, imagination, risk assessment, pattern recognition, spatial, creative, and independent thinking. It teaches kids how to deal with loss, forces them to do research before making a decision, increases their IQ, and because chess is a fair game, chess lessons also help you create a nation in which every 6-year-old understands its importance. It’s fair, he says to Putian. “This is something that will improve the entire community in the long run.”

The only question is: is this good? The first children to receive compulsory chess lessons ten years ago are only 16 years old. As a result, they didn’t even pass their final exams, let alone the chance to “reform their community”. The Pisa triennial report on school results around the world does not investigate Armenia, but the results of the International Mathematical Olympiad, an event in which more than a hundred countries participate each year, do not reflect Armenian chess policy. In the seventeen years before Armenia made chess mandatory, the national team always ranked 26th and 67th. In the subsequent eleven editions, it ranked 26th and 67th.

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Moreover, most studies in the field of intelligence show that the supposed transfer of knowledge from one domain to another cannot be demonstrated, says Jos Tulbom, curriculum developer for mathematics, computer science, and digital literacy on behalf of SLO, the National Curriculum Center of Expertise. In other words, it is very difficult to prove that learning a particular skill, such as chess or Latin, also helps children master other skills, such as mathematics or logic. “If you want your kids to be good at math, it’s better to teach math than chess.”

This (along with the revolution expected by both the Dutch Bridge Confederation and the Dutch Drafts Union) is also why chess won’t soon become a mandatory component of Dutch schools, says Tolbom.

However, search results continue to appear more often This indicates that there are indeed a number of unique advantages to chess, says Martin Elderson, a neuroscientist who co-authored an article with two psychologists from the University of Groningen entitled: Do children become smarter by playing chess?

School chess books at Global Bridge School in Yerevan, Armenia.  .  Anush Babianjan's photo

School chess books at Global Bridge School in Yerevan, Armenia. .Anush Babianjan’s photo

The initial answer: maybe. For a long time, most studies of chess have dealt with the classic chicken and egg problem: did children who studied become smarter because they played chess, or did they start playing chess because they were already smarter? To get around this problem, use Most of the new studies, including Elderson’s method, is another method. They give chess lessons to half a random group of children, and the other half not, so that the results of the computation can then be compared more fairly.

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“Several studies cautiously confirm that chess, especially among young children, can have a positive effect on math skills,” Elderson says. ‘Also in children with average or below average IQs. The problem with these studies is that they are relatively small and, for example, do not consider the effects on other skills, such as concentration or creativity. So we would like to do a larger, long-term study.

This research is unlikely to have anything to do with the Armenian chess match between Arman and his colleague Elizabeth in chapter 317. For while Mr. Edgar is still explaining, and before Arman can even shout the last “shakh yev mat”, the bell rings and the two are already rushing to the square – It was clearly the highlight of that school day.

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