Friday, 25 August 2017

A Game of Chess?

There has been a succession of articles recently about the sharp decline in the number of children who read books for pleasure. Apps/video games/You Tube etc take up most of children's leisure time. Indeed, most youngsters are attracted by anything which doesn't require extended periods of concentration. Most households have at least two tablets, ready and waiting...

With instant gratification at the touch of a screen, why would any child bother to go about the laborious process of buying a cumbersome book and then sitting down quietly to read it? Added to this, it is often the case that when starting a novel, the reader has to be patient during the first few chapters, as the storyline unfolds.

Patient? No thanks. Nowadays, few under the age of 25 are prepared to wait for anything, if they have a choice.

This need for instant gratification has simultaneously had a deleterious effect on many children's ability to concentrate in class. Modern day teachers are expected to be akin to circus performers, to ensure the pupils are not distracted. As technology develops, the situation will only get worse.

What can be done? I have an idea... I think every child should be made to learn to play the game of chess. He or she will immediately find concentration is required, often for an extended period of time. And it won't only assist in a person's powers of concentration... it will also assist his or her powers of critical thinking/problem solving/planning analysis and abstract reasoning.

The benefits would be enormous. As a school boy, I was pretty hyperactive (still am) and I would probably have been diagnosed with ADHD in a modern day school. There is no doubt that being forced to play chess by my Housemaster every time I stepped out of line helped me enormously (as you might imagine, I had to play most days). Before very long I was playing unprompted. My behaviour soon improved and I often look back and appreciate how the game of chess enriched my life and helped to keep me on the straight and narrow at that crucial period in my life. We could even roll this initiative out into prisons... the benefits would be marked.

It's worth consideration, surely?

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