Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chess for Improving Math and Reading

In Idaho from USA today ...


Anonymous said...

Challenging Mathematics incorporates chess lessons (once per week) into math lessons. I have seen this used successfully in Quebec classrooms with ESL children. Quebec has some of the youngest chess masters in the world. They did quite well on the PISA and outdid their English speaking Canadian counterparts.

Teachers in the US I've met refuse to take chess seriously. Something to do with Puritan work ethic? Like learning can't be fun. Or even funnier, Core Plus is fun (if you're an astronaut)?

Sudhakar said...

In my opinion, chess is the ideal co-curricular activity for any cognitively challenging curriculum. The latter is hard to come by these days. I have coached several schools in Oregon and Washington, and I find administrative support very spotty. One parent came to my school club in Oregon, claiming that he could not start a club in his school because the principal thought it was elitist! The two elementary schools that kept trading the state championship back and forth in Oregon also had the highest percentage of children going on to middle school magnet programs for highly gifted children. Study after study (truly peer reviewed and scientifically conducted) has shown a positive correlation between chess and cognitive ability. As a matter of fact, one of the best selling books in Europe at one time was called "Bringing Up Genius!" by Laszlo Polgar, who raised three daughters to be Woman Chess Grandmasters. Scientific American wrote an article on how the brain functions, by using chess as the perfect vehicle to study large changes in cognitive ability over short periods of time. And still, I have been underwhelmed by the reaction from the public K-12 establishment in its support. The two school in southwest Washington that have had the best chess clubs are both Christian schools.

(Following passage is an exerpt from my blog) I was so disillusioned with the lack of emphasis on intellectual activities in the state I lived in (Oregon), I led the startup of the non profit Oregon Scholastic Chess Federation ( ) , which sponsors chess clubs in schools, and to date has signed up more than 2000 competing members, and has held three state championships. My younger two have been chess players all their academic lives, and routinely participate in state and national tournaments. The Indian culture, which gave birth to the game of chess, still considers this the ultimate mental challenge. When I visit my hometown in India, I take my kids to the local chess club, where the top kids are rated internationally. My kids are usually humbled by competition that is several years younger.

Anonymous said...

See United States Chess Federation (USCF) website:

Many studies have shown that chess improves student outcomes. Check the various contacts from the website. Ask about the Chess in Schools programs.

As for being "underwhelmed" by administrative and public support, that will pass once positive results become apparent. In the meantime, do what's best anyway.