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Armenia Makes Chess Compulsory In Schools

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the castle-class dept.

Education 300

Hugh Pickens writes "AFP News reports that chess will become a required subject in primary schools in Armenia, where children from the age of six will learn chess as a separate subject on the curriculum for two hours a week. The lessons, which start later this year, will 'foster schoolchildren's intellectual development' and teach them to 'think flexibly and wisely', says Arman Aivazian, an official at the Ministry of Education. President Serzh Sarkisian, an enthusiastic supporter of the game, has committed around $1.5 million to the scheme in a move to turn the country of 3.2 million people into a global force in the games, says Aivazian. 'Teaching chess in schools will create a solid basis for the country to become a chess superpower.' Armenia's national team won gold at the biennial International Chess Olympiad in both 2006 and 2008, and the country's top player, Levon Aronian, is currently ranked number three in the world."

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300 comments

Brilliant! (4, Insightful)

Bifurcati (699683) | about 3 years ago | (#35853052)

Their president should be Knighted! :)

Seriously, though, this is an intriguing way of fostering logical/analytical/creative thinking. I wonder if there is any peer reviewed literature on the impact of chess on children?

Re:Brilliant! (5, Informative)

Bifurcati (699683) | about 3 years ago | (#35853082)

Replying to myself, some further [quadcitychess.com] googling [gardinerchess.com] [PDF] shows a number of studies that suggest a link between learning chess and improved performance. There does seem to be evidence that learning chess improves performance (although there also seems to be some studies that suffer from correlation/causation issues; without reviewing each study individually, I'm also suspicious that some studies might not have controlled for the fact that any intervention produces improvement, not just learning chess. But the devil is in the details, and there's a broad trend towards improvement).

Looks like chess is already being taught in the Phillipines [blogspot.com] too?

Re:Brilliant! (4, Insightful)

migla (1099771) | about 3 years ago | (#35853116)

Yup. I'd be interested to know if maybe some Battle for Wesnoth or Nethack might produce some results too, especially considering some pupils might find playing those more enjoyable.

(And there would of course be plenty of other examples aswell.)

If I was the supreme principal of the land, I'd draw up goals regarding logic and whatnot that the chess-playing is desired to accomplish and have teachers and kids find the most suitable game for each. I don't think chess can be the best fit for everyone.

Re:Brilliant! (0)

Pieroxy (222434) | about 3 years ago | (#35853128)

I don't think chess can be the best fit for everyone.

Do you really think anything could be the best fit for everyone?

Re:Brilliant! (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | about 3 years ago | (#35853326)

D'uh! That's exactly what his post was about, dude...

Re:Brilliant! (1)

migla (1099771) | about 3 years ago | (#35853464)

I felt I was expanding a bit on the thoughts and info expressed.

The initial "Yup" of my post was to indicate agreement with the parent. I then proceeded to draw two specific examples (Wesnoth and Nethack) of games I suspect might be better suited for some people, considering that (I presume that) enjoyment will help learning.

Then I alluded to the point that the underlying desired learning goals pertaining to logic and whatnot should be the focus (which they no doubt are claimed to be, but I could believe that the prestige of chess could have something to do with it as well) and not Chess for Chess sake.

So, I don't think that was exactly just the same as the parent post. Or maybe I didn't get my view across. Or maybe specific proposals of Wesnoth and Nethack and the rest of it obviously follows.

At any rate, I hereby pledge not to patent my ideas in the preceding comment, on grounds of previous art and/or obviousness.

Re:Brilliant! (3, Funny)

migla (1099771) | about 3 years ago | (#35853520)

LOL. I'm an idiot. I can't follow the structure of parent and child posts here. Please disregard the misplaced passive-aggressiveness. I'm sorry.

Re:Brilliant! (1)

migla (1099771) | about 3 years ago | (#35853552)

I mistakenly thought you replied to my post. Please disregard. Professional help has been sought.

Re:Brilliant! (1)

headLITE (171240) | about 3 years ago | (#35853540)

It doesn't matter, neither is math, but both teach you something useful that is harder to learn twenty years later when you need it.

Re:Brilliant! (2)

Blackajack (1856892) | about 3 years ago | (#35853158)

Not just Nethack, but any roguelike without save scumming teaches some VERY important life lessons about decisions and forethought..

Re:Brilliant! (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 3 years ago | (#35853260)

Ofc it would but it would be to simple.
Chess requires you to memorize quite a lot of things.
"Battle for Wesnoth" does not.
Also the variation of things to do and the strategy how to do it is in "Battle for Wesnoth" much simpler than in chess.
angel'o'sphere

Re:Brilliant! (1)

the_womble (580291) | about 3 years ago | (#35853372)

I am not quite sure how to compare the two meaningfully, but Wesnoth is quite complex and hard to learn. As evidence look at the number of newbies who appear on the Wesnoth forums to complain about how hard it is, accuse the AI of cheating, etc.

Re:Brilliant! (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 3 years ago | (#35853404)

I agree that Wesnoth is hard.

But to play against an AI you don't need to learn about its intentions ... if you play against a human you need.

Regarding Wesnoth: frankly I have no idea how to win it in the terms the develops or the forums suggest: you can win this map in X moves, sorry I need 3x or 4x the moves to do it. And I don't get what the point is.

However that closes the circle, if you learn chess in school you have a teacher, if you play wesnoth, not.

angel'o'sphere

Re:Brilliant! (1)

migla (1099771) | about 3 years ago | (#35853496)

For some people Chess could simply be too hard, so maybe another game would be better suited. Not necessarily Wesnoth or Nethack, though.

Re:Brilliant! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853644)

When I learned chess, we started playing with only pawns and kings on the board, and added the other pieces into the game one at a time, so we didn't have to learn all the pieces in one go.

Re:Brilliant! (3, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | about 3 years ago | (#35853654)

You're forgetting this is Armenia.
A mass-produced chessboard with a set of pieces is like $0.30 imported in bulk from China.
Getting a computer capable of running Battle for Wesnoth may be beyond capabilities of most schools, and even if they have a computer lab, it is likely occupied most of the time by IT classes, simply no time to occupy it for another 2h a week for each group. And funding another computer lab just for playing nethack...?

Re:Brilliant! (0)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 3 years ago | (#35853248)

Every intellectually challenging pastime improves your mental abilities.

WTF that is a no brainer, why do you need a "peer reviewed" paper for that?

Most people in our times can not think. With our times I mean the last 200 years.

Learning how to think is something that is no longer "thought" since a few hundred years. At least not in western society. People that are "smart" are not wanted, they are a threat to the "ruling class"

Your parent post: oh 'is there a peer reviewed paper' completely supports that. No one has a single brain cell left to think for himself.

angel'o'sphere

Re:Brilliant! (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 3 years ago | (#35853318)

Although it's possible to parse some meaning from your post, your incoherent sentence structure and gratuitous use of quotation marks makes your criticism of others' ability to think an object lesson in glass houses and throwing stones.

Re:Brilliant! (1)

Eivind (15695) | about 3 years ago | (#35853446)

Yeah right, because 200 years ago, "most people" did an awful lot of seriously profound thinking.

You're probably comparing the most *awesome* people of the past with *average* people today, and that's just plain not fair.

Re:Brilliant! (1, Flamebait)

Joce640k (829181) | about 3 years ago | (#35853398)

The available data suggests that it turns you into a nation of vodka-drinkers who drive crappy cars and fight a lot.

Re:Brilliant! (2)

Kashgarinn (1036758) | about 3 years ago | (#35853684)

I don't think chess has any real benefits except to pass time with a friend doing something fun. Learning chess trains spatial calculations constricted to game mechanics, as well as memorisation of movements.

If you want to train the brain, I'd much rather see more music training in schools. Learning music teaches a lot more senses, i.e. rythm, tonal acuity, reading (notes), dexterity with an implement, memory.

I'm probably missing a few things from both, but learning music I'd believe gives someone more brain-training, if that's the goal.

Re:Brilliant! (2)

openess (1536159) | about 3 years ago | (#35853086)

I think they'r better off playin GO in schools, for fostering "logical/analytical/creative thinking". This seems to be aimed at fostering chessplayers.

Re:Brilliant! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853104)

There is likely a cultural aspect to the choice of chess as well.

Re:Brilliant! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853118)

Go is much simpler to learn, more challenging, and more fun than chess.

Re:Brilliant! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853138)

Go is much simpler to learn, more challenging, and more fun than chess.

There are no limits for "challenging" aspects of chess..you can be better and better, no limits reached yet. So far KAsparov was the greatest one.

Re:Brilliant! (1)

syockit (1480393) | about 3 years ago | (#35853202)

Neither there are for Go as well. Each is challenging in its own way, Chess having complex movements in a small space, while Go having vast movement choices albeit simple rule.

Re:Brilliant! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853280)

There are no limits for "challenging" aspects of chess

The same could be said for rock paper scissors. Some level of infinite challenge does not equal a greater challenge.

Chess has no more creative or educational value than many other simpler activities. The clear (and even stated) reason chess was chose here is status and that is a poor reason to force changes in a educational system.

Re:Brilliant! (1)

Frans Faase (648933) | about 3 years ago | (#35853388)

There are strong reasons to believe that go is more challenging than chess. Chess is mainly a tactical game, where go is far more strategic. Also it seems you can only become strong in chess by learning large number of opening games by heart. True, go does also have it's joseki's, but it seems that these play a less significant role, and that there is more room for variation.

Re:Brilliant! (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 3 years ago | (#35853204)

in the western world there can't be such(study)..

because a large number of kids actually do play chess occasionally against each other. and even in many other cultures there's similar games.

but I can't help but wonder, what will they achieve by being a chess superpower? politics is much more complicated than a game of chess(ask kasparov...).

Re:Brilliant! (2)

X10 (186866) | about 3 years ago | (#35853230)

They will achieve something bigger than being a chess superpower. They will have kids that have learned to think. To think really hard.

Re:Brilliant! (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 3 years ago | (#35853268)

Politics is complicate, because you and I as a nerd are not able to see the motivation of people by looking into the face of people. So we basically take their word and even forget to think at home: wow what could be their motivation to say that?

Chess OTOH is pretty clear on that: if the opponent has moved a piece. Ask yourself: what is the motivation? The obvious aim very likely is it not.

You learn quite a lot in playing chess.

angel'o'sphere

Re:Brilliant! (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 3 years ago | (#35853226)

No idea but then I can think of worse subjects to be taught to children (think "intelligent design" and stuff like that which is pushed in some US schools). Chess is a game, a complex game, that does require analytical and logical thinking, and probably some creativity.

What it has for total impact on their development? No idea. But this is something that I think won't hurt - assuming at least they're not overdoing it, and start pushing kids too much. On a related note, I have seen research that for elderly people the regular playing of mind sports helps offset dementia and generally keeps the brain fit. That one was related to the card game bridge, but as that's a mind sport just like chess or go, the effects may be similar.

Chess? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853072)

How about a video game, like Black Ops?

Meanwhile in the USA... (4, Funny)

dogsbreath (730413) | about 3 years ago | (#35853074)

Creationism is elevated to the status of scientific theory to be taught in schools.

Hmmmm, boy those Armenians sure have their education priorities wrong.

Re:Meanwhile in the USA... (-1, Offtopic)

Trivial Solutions (1724416) | about 3 years ago | (#35853108)

God says...
truer Neither lamented passages formlessness baptism Dost
murdering perfecting infirmity instillest utterly ambition
instillest utterly providence firmament Presence male
editions front calculations delusions voyage diversely
generation disclaims does admiration hearest unrighteous
protection instruct eat remindeth betook chastely privacy
infidelity delightsome any Hearken struggled inheritance
middle age gratings sufficient trademark amiable beams
result instance ignorance smooth divinations Behold repay
wonderfulness Free bones tongue discretion shoutedst beyond
festival extremest beautified alarmed satiated steep hast
Protasius bowed hesitating shoot sermons salt sufficest
lays attempt parental abstract modification towardliness
told effaces replacement USA file waft prayed tormented
bless existing written contention meets wherewith golden
restlessly Ambrose consecrate Whose mould speakers infringement
falsely silence family Italy foolish feelings payable
remembereth imperfect choosing collects armed filling
loving uncorruptness dealt revenge shouted conspirators
should fix thus moderation idleness abstruser diverse
slighting bowers condemning disalloweth Catiline contentiousness
Oh deafen tendernesses sounds those

Re:Meanwhile in the USA... (0)

dogsbreath (730413) | about 3 years ago | (#35853112)

thanks for that.... ??????

Re:Meanwhile in the USA... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853290)

Did you really think you would be able to comprehend the mind of God?!

Re:Meanwhile in the USA... (4, Insightful)

thephydes (727739) | about 3 years ago | (#35853378)

Unfortunately your comment was labelled "Funny". "Sad but true" would have been more accurate. I can assure non-believers (in chess) that many of my best students in Math are also very good chess players. Correlation yes, causative maybe but the thinking processes seem to be similar.

Re:Meanwhile in the USA... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 years ago | (#35853750)

I think that, when deciding to make something a compulsory subject, the correlation/causation issue is serious business.

My experience with very smart, very motivated people is that they almost always have one or more cool hobbies at which they are pretty good. Sometimes ones that you would expect based on their primary subject area, sometimes rather surprising ones. If you take one of those hobbies and make it a compulsory class, though, the question of whether it will improve the outcomes of the selection of students thrown into it is far from clear(especially since the new class is necessarily trading off against some other use of the time and teachers, it isn't good enough to be better than nothing, you have to be better than whatever you would have been doing instead).

Hate or love? (1)

Blackajack (1856892) | about 3 years ago | (#35853076)

Either the instigator loves chess and is stupid or hates chess and is quite sly..

While I can guarantee that this move will cause a lot of hate towards chess and chess players, it will also most probably foster some quite interesting variants of chess..

Being president infers educational expertise? (1)

TheJodster (212554) | about 3 years ago | (#35853098)

I thought only American politicians fancied themselves wizened and experienced educators without ever teaching a group of children anything in their lives. I am relieved to see that this is an international phenomenon that knows no bounds of ignorance. Thank God Armenia doesn't have a gold medal winning Olympiad in Twister!

Benign (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853110)

At least it's benign stupidity.

This is genius (4, Interesting)

Riceballsan (816702) | about 3 years ago | (#35853114)

For more reasons then one. First off it's roughly as valid if not more then say algebra and similar subjects when it comes to a career, algebra is specifically taught more or less as a subject that is useless in most lines of work on its own, but teaches the brain to think in ways it will need to. Secondly, it is a competitive activity. Why do Japanese students tend to do so much better then american students, simple they compete in mental subjects, the grades are posted on a giant board for everyone to see, and are ranked from smartest to dumbest. In america grades are confidential, we can't risk students self esteem getting hurt when they are made fun of for being dumb, so we have to hide that from them and allow only 1 subject where they will be mocked for being bad at Gym. Guess what subject our kids focus on and practice to avoid looking dumb in front of their friends, yup we pump out thousands of idiots who are hoping for the 1 in a billion shot at being a professional athlete. If we brought the same criticism to chess, I have a feeling we'd get many more future programmers etc due to their minds actually being trained. Worse case scenario, chess boxing would become the next big thing.

Re:This is genius (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853174)

yup we pump out thousands of idiots who are hoping for the 1 in a billion shot at being a professional athlete

Look what it made to your math skills.

Re:This is genius (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853266)

I agree for the most part...

Just an observation - So if we're pumping up thousands of idiots (lets call it.... 999,999, so that we can technical stay in the range of "thousands", but then round up to 1 million) graduating each year (lets assume all males, because lets face it - in the US, female professional sports are not lucrative)

just the major 4 in the US:
30 MLB teams, 25 man roster = 750 professional MLB players
32 NFL teams * 53 man roster = 1696 professional NFL players each year
30 NHL teams *23 man roster = 690
30 NBA teams * 15 man roster = 450

= 3586 total athletic spots.

If the average career length is 10 years (random google search, but makes the math nice and easy), then we can assume that there are 359 spots opening every year. 359 / 1,000,000 which is significantly better than 1 in a billion, and exactly 359 times better than a one in a million shot at greatness and celebrity!

So, by the powers of modus ponens and modus tollens and/or (pun intended!) de morgan, I declare that clearly, sir, you are incorrect by your own datum! And since you are incorrect, then it only follows that it is completely reasonable to forgo an education in favor of athletic training!

(I'll ignore the world-wide cricket, rugby and soccer phenomenon, since this is presumably about US educational institutions pumping out soon-to-be-disillusioned athletes) :)

Re:This is genius (2, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | about 3 years ago | (#35853302)

Do you realise the irony in complaining that schools aren't competitive enough, while simultaneously complaining that people are competing to be that 1 in a billion athelete?

We don't need competition. Competition tells you if you're not the best, you're a worthless loser. We don't need a hundred confident competitive giants and a million suicidal losers. What you need is to make the learning itself worthwhile.

Re:This is genius (4, Insightful)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | about 3 years ago | (#35853348)

His argument was that if you compete to be good at academia, then there are more potential jobs to take advantage of the skills you gain from competition, than there are jobs where we need people who are extremely good at athletics. There's no paradox or contradiction, and you're misusing the word irony.

Re:This is genius (4, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | about 3 years ago | (#35853436)

Except if you are -very- competetive about athletics, you don't have time for properly learning all the rest (but being a promising athlete helps to pass).

You're just barely getting by, and in the end you are not competent in your learned work field. You're extremely competetive though, so you do get to a higher (managemental) position than the nerds who didn't compete at sports and learned their job instead.

And that's the image of your current corporate structure. Highly competetive, aggressive, and utterly incompetent jerks are the managers, meanwhile talented experts stay at the bottom, because not being very competetive doesn't fit the image of a "person deserving a success" for the managers, who, after all, fought tooth and nail for their positions.

Yes, it's true there is a lot of jobs which are easier to get if you have all the competetive skills. It's easier to get a better-paying job that way. It's definitely profitable to the person in question. It's just utterly harmful to the whole system.

And his argument is wrong. (1)

elucido (870205) | about 3 years ago | (#35853634)

Many educated people still don't have a job. Why? Because there is no shortage of educated people in the world. There is more a shortage of athletes than of educated people. This is why athletes are more valuable to the world and make more money.

Re:And his argument is wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853810)

Wrong. Athletes make more money for the same reason that rock stars and actors do. Our society values entertainment more than education or problem-solving.

Re:This is genius (1)

am 2k (217885) | about 3 years ago | (#35853776)

Competition is an integral part of (not only) human behavior, you can't discuss that away. The question is just, on what should the children focus on competing?

Re:This is genius (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | about 3 years ago | (#35853370)

This is not well thought through...

If making them compete would work, how is there the cliché of the nerd who gets pummelled at dodge-ball? How are there jocks if the existence of jocks, following your logic, would motivate the nerds to go pump iron, shoot some b-ball and get better at sports? It works the other way, too: If the existence of one super-math-genius would motivate the jocks to keep up, how exactly do you explain the stupid jock cliché?

Yes, I know, they're clichés, but still... Isn't there some truth to this? Do people not specialize?

While the coddling that is going on in some schools surely is a bad idea, kicking the kids' egos in the dirt with every graded test is a sure road to hell. Everyone has different skillsets. That is not only okay, it's a great thing. We call it diversity.

What we need is a system that puts together people with similar strengths and ambitions. Focus on the stuff they like and are good at (the former often results in the latter). Give them the basics in the rest, but don't have them forcibly wrap their brains around concepts that just aren't for them.

Don't make people compete in foreign fields. I mean, come on, would you like your wife expecting you to be the best car fixer, TV repairman, plumber and so on? Give yourself and everyone else a break. Life after school sees you having one field of profession. Sometimes it's a mix of different things if that's to your liking, but never does our society expect you to know everything. Why would you expect it of our offspring?

Re:This is genius (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853556)

@"we can't risk students self esteem getting hurt when they are made fun of for being dumb"

In the UK at least, (and I very much suspect in the US) that sadly is the exact opposite, in that its the smart kids at serious risk of low self esteem because they are made fun of for being intelligent. That’s when you know society is getting seriously fucked up. Its become so twisted around that we as a society are expected hold up these vacuous attention seekers in society as role models and yet the intelligent ones are to be put down for being wrong for being intelligent!

Even worse the minority of society who have a relentlessly attention seeking behaviour are suffering from a personality disorder known as Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD), which is caused as a result of them being deprived parental attention and support during their childhood and so they go on to be desperate to be the centre of attention, often for the rest of their lives. Yet as a society we are expected to hold these people up up as role models! ... Which is after all exactly what HPD people want, because they want to be the centre of attention! ... That’s exactly what these 15 minutes of fame style celebrities are, they are HPD, yet through their high profile they are getting to define what is expected in society.

So is it any wonder our society is becoming so twisted and it is these attention seeker people in society who put down anyone else who gains the centre of attention over them and so anyone with any intelligence who talks about their interests gets put down simply because by talking about their interests, they inevitably become at that moment in time, the centre of attention and attention seekers seek to remove attention from everyone else back onto them. So they loudly put down people for being intelligent.

Attention seekers behaviour is endlessly duplicitous around their need to be the centre of attention and intelligent kids are suffering years of abuse and low self- esteem (often for a lifetime) through no fault of their own, because of abuse from this twisted minority of society who disparately wants attention and will gain attention no matter what they have to do to get attention). Its easy to feel sorry for the attention seekers, but as soon as they cross the line from being a victim to an abuser, their influence on society and their abuse has to be stopped.

Our society is broken and held back by listening to these attention seeking people and its getting worse. :(

Getting good grades does not mean smart (1)

elucido (870205) | about 3 years ago | (#35853608)

And getting good grades does not mean dumb. I would say chess is more accurate for determining who is smart and dumb because I'm good at chess.

What have you to say about that?

Re:This is genius (2)

pnot (96038) | about 3 years ago | (#35853692)

Why do Japanese students tend to do so much better then american students, simple they compete in mental subjects, the grades are posted on a giant board for everyone to see, and are ranked from smartest to dumbest. In america grades are confidential, we can't risk students self esteem getting hurt when they are made fun of for being dumb

That's one way to do it. But Finland gets even better results [time.com] using an absolute minimum of grading, streaming, ranking, testing, and public shaming of the "dumbest" -- with far fewer hours spent in school or private tuition to boot. And I dare say it results in happier, less stressed kids too. Of course I'm not saying that just throwing out the grading is sufficient to improve standards -- the linked article has a little more detail on the other important factors (well-trained, well-paid, respected teachers, for a start).

Re:This is genius (2)

shoemilk (1008173) | about 3 years ago | (#35853740)

. Why do Japanese students tend to do so much better then american students, simple they compete in mental subjects, the grades are posted on a giant board for everyone to see, and are ranked from smartest to dumbest.

I don't know the last time you went to Japan was (if ever) but this is 100% not true. I should know, I work in a Japanese Jr High. The only incidence I can think of close to this is for the driving test and HS/ uni entrance results. However, they are posted with numbers not names. No one knows your number but you.

Good move (5, Interesting)

Renderer of Evil (604742) | about 3 years ago | (#35853124)

I studied 2 years of chess in Armenia, beginning from grade 4 in a 10 year secondary system. Of course, this was during Soviet times and you were allowed to choose from a range of subjects. It wasn't compulsory. My grades in other subjects improved dramatically as a result.

Really glad this is happening.

Re:Good move (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853256)

Of course, this was during Soviet times and you were allowed to choose ...

Yes, of course!

Re:Good move (1)

iinlane (948356) | about 3 years ago | (#35853472)

Even though the communist party committed crimes against humanity on a regular basis the Soviet Union wasn't an evil empire with sole purpose of doing evil. The leadership did everything they could to fortify and extend their power but there were also normal people living their everyday lives trying to build better future for their children.
Did you really believe *all* that western propaganda that insisted everything done behind iron curtain is evil? Also that Swedish socialism == communism == evil?

Re:Good move (1)

SharpFang (651121) | about 3 years ago | (#35853582)

Interesting, which direction did the Iron Curtain work.

While the East had a pretty reasonable clue about culture of the West, importing songs, "stealing" inventions, importing luxury wares for special shops where you could buy them with dollars.

It seems, the west has no clue about rich academic culture of the East (science was really valued), only begins to discover the sci-fi writers, will never understand the subtle humor (bypassing the censorship), very surprised slowly discovers quality animated movies... Yes, you COULD choose in the university. And it seems the west had very little clue what was going on behind the Iron Curtain...

In Soviet Armenia Chess Move You (1)

syousef (465911) | about 3 years ago | (#35853274)

I studied 2 years of chess in Armenia, beginning from grade 4 in a 10 year secondary system. Of course, this was during Soviet times and you were allowed to choose from a range of subjects. It wasn't compulsory. My grades in other subjects improved dramatically as a result.

Really glad this is happening.

In Soviet Armenia Chess Move You

Re:Good move (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 3 years ago | (#35853300)

It wasn't compulsory. My grades in other subjects improved dramatically as a result. ... Really glad this is happening. (emphasis mine)

I have no doubt that chess is a very useful, as well as enjoyable, intellectual activity for students who enjoy it, but I strongly suspect that the main effect of making it compulsory for all students will be to create a generation who mostly regard it as "one of those boring things we had to do in school" and won't get any real value from it.

Re:Good move (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | about 3 years ago | (#35853356)

Aha! And this leads to the deeper truth: you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. Trying to find out which subjects are more important and then making those compulsory is the wrong attitude entirely; instead we need to better explain to children WHY they are learning these things, empower them to choose, and then everything else will follow.

Armenian children sitting in school (5, Funny)

Centurix (249778) | about 3 years ago | (#35853134)

Plotting, scheming. Next it'll be mandatory reading of Sun Tzu's Art of War, Animal Farm and 1984. Apple stores burnt to the ground. Halted sales of converse to Hipsters. Mandatory prison sentences for anyone using a laptop at Tzarbucks. These are the children of the future...

Re:Armenian children sitting in school (2)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 3 years ago | (#35853306)

Lol ....

Next it'll be mandatory reading of Sun Tzu's Art of War, Animal Farm and 1984.

So this three are not mandatory readings in your country ... for god sake, what do you read? Mickey Mouse?

angel'o'sphere

P.S.
Unfortunately in my country they are not only mandatory reading (except Sun Tzu's) in german, but *also* in the english class.

Re:Armenian children sitting in school (1)

IllusionalForce (1830532) | about 3 years ago | (#35853694)

1984 and Animal Farm would most likely not become mandatory, simply because they might teach people to be wary of what's going on so that the government can't screw them up bit by bit. That's not what a good, fair, nice government wants, since that would mean people wouldn't be able to be controlled 24/7, just think of the children!

Teach them how to play Jeopardy! instead (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 3 years ago | (#35853144)

IBM's Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov at chess years ago. Teach the Armenian kids how to play Jeopardy!, and let them have a go at IBM's Watson Jeopardy! champ instead!

Um, "What is, a silly idea . . . ?"

Quote (1)

dargaud (518470) | about 3 years ago | (#35853200)

"Chess is a foolish expedient for making idle people believe they are doing something very clever when they are only wasting their time." -- George Bernard Shaw.

Why? (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 3 years ago | (#35853252)

If you want to teach them how to think "flexibly and wisely," then just do that directly. Showering them with only slightly relevant subjects that should be optional (advanced math, chess, etc) is rather inefficient when it comes to the amount of time used. I guess it might be a fun way to teach the skills, but I'd say the skills should also be taught in a more direct manner with this being an exercise. I still completely disagree with the act of showering people with advanced math classes merely to "teach" them these skills (which, for many people, it doesn't appear to work, anyway).

Don't want any more Kardashians (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853284)

I wonder if the Armenian Government is afraid of producing more Kardashians.

This is insane (1)

Toby The Economist (811138) | about 3 years ago | (#35853330)

Two reasons;

1. cost / benefit tradeoff
2. restriction of individal freedom

You spend a certain amount of money and a certain amount of time, teaching everyone chess. Would they have done better, say, learning straightforward maths? Armenia is a desperately poor country. There are higher priorities than chess. I'd also say Armenia is desperately poor for a *reason*, and that reason is having a corrupt, non-elected ruling party who go around making arbitrary decisions and enforcing them on everyone else, which makes things like investment and ownership risky propositions.

Secondly, what if I don't WANT to learn chess? what business has anyone else FORCING me to do so? so what if it's 'for my own good'. I can think of a zillion reasons for forcing other people to do things - it's good for your mind, your body, your future, you name it. But what it comes down to is *me* forcing *you* to do what *I* say you should do. What difference does the reason make? if I agree with the reason, maybe I'd do it for myself anyway. Or maybe I'd spend that time and money on other things, because in my individual case, those other choices make more sense. And if I disagree with the reason, then you, matey, are sticking your bloody oar in where it's not wanted.

You know in China, it used to be (don't know if it still is) compulsory to learn Communism, to get your Uni degree?

In Armenia, it's compulsory to learn chess. Ah, but that's okay, right, *because we approve of chess*.

Freedom means no one else forces you to do things. If anyone else can force you for any reason, you're not free. You are their subject. Chess isn't worth that - nothing is.

Re:This is insane (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853408)

"You spend a certain amount of money and a certain amount of time, teaching everyone chess. Would they have done better, say, learning straightforward maths?" blah blah blah "There are higher priorities than chess." nonsense ranting blah blah "what business has anyone else FORCING me to do so?"

So whilst we get forced to learn some math as a basic skill while growing up, chess is unacceptable? Don't say you argued your curriculum at school, because you didn't. You just got on with it. If you hadn't learned some math, because your papa was a douche and argued it wasn't valuable, would you be "Toby the Economist"?

And if you are not Armenian, what do you know of Armenian social, economic and educational priorities? It isn't always about sticking it to the man, despite what your community college professor told you.

Also, you're an idiot.

Re:This is insane (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853422)

Does the individual freedom argument really apply? I mean, we are already forcing students to learn math (algebra, geometry and etc.), languages (english, second language), and humanities (history, geography, philosophy). Should they also be allowed to choose whether or not to learn these modules? When I was a student in Primary and Secondary school, I have often maintained that subjects like history and math were a waste of time since I am never going to need to know when some particular battle happened and neither did I need to know what sine meant. I am much more mature now and I see the value in math and history now but I didn't then.

Since they are making chess compulsory only in primary school, maybe it's ok? Maybe it's ok to restrict individual freedom since these are only young children? It seems to me that young children should not be given full individual freedom since they do not have the maturity to handle it. It's not like they are making it compulsory in university level (and even then, it's arguable whether there is no value to making something compulsory. I think it's compulsory for all students in University of Chicago to learn calculus, even students in Arts. Someone correct me if I'm wrong).

If I wanted to take this freedom argument too far, couldn't I also say that I am being *forced* to do primary school and that young children should be able to decide whether or not to go to school?

I might be making a few logical fallacies but I'd like you to elaborate on your argument. I just don't see "freedom" as this absolute thing.

Re:This is insane (1)

Toby The Economist (811138) | about 3 years ago | (#35853572)

I think the individual freedom argument applies fully to schooling. Why -are- we teaching every single 13 year old the history of Henry VII? why -do- they have no choice? it's no different to forcing chess on people.

You can say every subject under the sun has value - it's true - needlework, say, has value - it's a truism; if someone is learning something, it's always a net gain. There IS no argument against teaching - not in terms of 'did you benefit'. But in terms of 'did you benefit as well, or nearly as well, as you could, given the cost and the other things you could have learned instead' - then needlework suddenly seems like a poor choice.

So does teaching every child in the country the same set of courses in the same way. Kids differ, in tastes, intellegence, maturity, you name it.

Regarding the restriction of individual freedom for children, I would say in general their parents are best placed - certainly far better placed than an education board - to decide what their child should be learning. Parents in general love their kids and want the best for them and listen to what their kid says, watch what their kid does.

I would indeed agree primary school is a case of forcing. It's a truism. Anything you -have- against your will is forcing. I also don't think school per se is necessarily a good idea. Indeed, I look at schools as institutions for the destruction of creative thought and intellectual curiosity. There is no more sure-fire way of alienating kids from education than forcing them to learn. Think of how kids in general view school - "oh God, do I have to do?" "thank God, it's the weekend!" "I'm ill, yay! no school!"

And maybe parents know school sucks. But since it's forced, people don't have much choice in how to express the fact that it's not a good idea - their kids -have- to go. In Germany there was a case recently where police raided the house of a couple who wanted to home-teach their kid and forced that kid to go to school.

When you don't have freedom, how can you find out if what you're doing isn't effective? you've blocked change.

Re:This is insane (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 3 years ago | (#35853656)

I think the individual freedom argument applies fully to schooling. Why -are- we teaching every single 13 year old the history of Henry VII?

1) Countries with public, secular and compulsory schooling (that's actually enforced) have considerably higher standards of living than those that do not.

The need for a compulsory schooling system is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If you oppose this, you're opposing the Western values that keep our society out of of the Dark Ages.

Re:This is insane (1)

Toby The Economist (811138) | about 3 years ago | (#35853780)

I think the individual freedom argument applies fully to schooling. Why -are- we teaching every single 13 year old the history of Henry VII?

1) Countries with public, secular and compulsory schooling (that's actually enforced) have considerably higher standards of living than those that do not.

What does that really mean, though?

Perhaps it just means all rich countries to date have ended up with centralized State-run education, and as you'd expect, rich countries with (relatively rich) education systems perform better than places like Ethiopia.

I don' t know of any rich, first world country *without* a centralized State-run system, so the type of system I would like to compare what we have now with doesn't exist.

The need for a compulsory schooling system is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If you oppose this, you're opposing the Western values that keep our society out of of the Dark Ages.

How can you make such an assertation with a straight face!

What I would say is that any system or mechanism which *forces* decisions on people is wrong. It is wrong to force people to do something; it is wrong to decieve them into doing something. Do you disagree with this?

Re:This is insane (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853454)

For one, it's essentially going to be their version of Gym or other required class (I also had to take home ec and woodshop) that people aren't necessarily that interested in but will deal with. Some will love it, some won't like it, and the majority will just float through it. I don't recall a choice in whether or not I wanted to do any of those. It was either do it or you don't graduate (and I didn't care for Gym at all). That is the nature of schooling where they will set certain criteria in education. You can't call that a lack of freedom.

On top of that, part of teaching chess isn't about the game at all (you can't say there is any alterior motive for home ec/woodshop) it's about mental skills they're trying to boost. It's a bit like algebra (or at least what algebra is supposed to be), and if they are smart they won't fail a kid because he loses the games, but check whether his pattern recognition and strategic skills have developed. I'm also not the best player, but by losing to really good players I got way better than I used to be.

Re:This is insane (1)

Toby The Economist (811138) | about 3 years ago | (#35853604)

For one, it's essentially going to be their version of Gym or other required class (I also had to take home ec and woodshop) that people aren't necessarily that interested in but will deal with. Some will love it, some won't like it, and the majority will just float through it. I don't recall a choice in whether or not I wanted to do any of those. It was either do it or you don't graduate (and I didn't care for Gym at all). That is the nature of schooling where they will set certain criteria in education. You can't call that a lack of freedom.

Why not?

Consider. As a kid, your parents pay tax - they have no choice in this. That tax funds schools. You as a child must go to school. You are then told what courses you will take (partially, anyway). What's *not* forced about that?

On top of that, part of teaching chess isn't about the game at all (you can't say there is any alterior motive for home ec/woodshop) it's about mental skills they're trying to boost. It's a bit like algebra (or at least what algebra is supposed to be), and if they are smart they won't fail a kid because he loses the games, but check whether his pattern recognition and strategic skills have developed. I'm also not the best player, but by losing to really good players I got way better than I used to be.

No - this comes under the argument "it's good for you, so it's okay". If you're being forced to do something, it's irrelevant whether or not it's good for you.

Re:This is insane (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about 3 years ago | (#35853458)

I don't know what country you are in, but here in the US, compulsory subjects are the norm. Many of them have no more real world use than chess.

Personal Experience (2)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | about 3 years ago | (#35853354)

My dad taught me chess when I was around 10 and we played regularly until I was out of high school. In 11th-12th grade we played 2-3-4 hour games almost nightly. I eventually won more than I lost before I moved out.

Of all the things, I think it taught me how to think many steps ahead on projects and tasks and improved my analytical thinking immeasurably.

Kudos for Armenia on this..there is nothing bad about it.

Not to be outdone (3, Funny)

pablo_max (626328) | about 3 years ago | (#35853426)

American schools in the south have mandated that schools shall now teach Tiddlywinks in an effort to increase manual dexterity so as to reduce the likelihood of burger flipping injuries for future generations.
The class shall follow directly after the new science curriculum, "7 days, the making of Earth".

Not going to work (1)

dirtyhippie (259852) | about 3 years ago | (#35853440)

The reason there are studies showing playing chess linked with all sorts of critical thinking, mathematical skill and other good traits is because the population they are pulling from would be playing video games or watching tv if not playing chess. By making chess mandatory in school, you're just taking time away from more traditional subjects of study.

They would better off with critical thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853490)

They would be better off with 1 hour of critical thinking (adapted to age and level) and 1 hour of chess...

Glad someone is doing it. (1)

gaiageek (1070870) | about 3 years ago | (#35853502)

I've often thought that chess should be taught in schools, as I think it's a game everyone should know (and I'm not even close to a chess fanatic), for the following reasons:

1. It teaches people to think about the greater consequences of their actions. Young people in particular can use all the help they can get learning that what may seem like a great idea in the moment could turn out very bad for them in the future.

2. It's probably the most well-known game in the world. When sitting down with a foreigner at some cafe, if there's one game you both know and can be found on the nearby shelves, it's probably chess. You don't even need to speak the same language to play the game.

It doesn't surprise me that this is happening in Armenia, which has a reputation for having some of the most business-savvy people in Europe if I'm not mistaken.

Chess in an educational setting (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | about 3 years ago | (#35853506)

Im an American public school graduate, so i cannot comment on how chess might be taught in other places around the world. I'd imagine that the most popular strategies for opening, mid and endgames would be rattled off like history facts or formulas out of a math textbook. The student would then be expected to regurgitate answers on a test. This certainly wouldnt provoke analytical thinking in people who are uninterested in the topic.

If their plan is to create the next generation of chess grandmasters, this probably isnt the way to go about it.

If you ask me (1)

drolli (522659) | about 3 years ago | (#35853560)

whether i prefer a school where my child learns chess or a school where any teacher may indoctrinate my child with fucked up fairytales under the false flag of "we dont know for sure", i prefer the chess school.

deities resign commissions, blame each other (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853620)

the strongest possible language that could be used, was used, & reused, & refused, as the sheep continue to flock into the bottomless pit of self-adulation & false gaud prosperity, as their self-chosen rulers direct them to do so using heathen fear based torture etc.... the disappointment can be felt across the universe on this day of disconnection. they still disclaim ANY involvement in all the current fire & brimstone happening in our neighborhood, claiming it's the work of some big headed self-chosen 'science' freaks, whose eternal reward has already been revoked.

disarm?

virgin birth, our pain starts here, even hurts god (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853746)

pain & suffering before dying is our trademark. no way of knowing who the resident ama rep. then was, so it must be forensic evidence. not 3rd party? not about virginity? honestly. to reiterate about the p&s, imagine the fulfillment of popping out another one of us with our monkey making portal all plugged, with?? ouch? the official text book claims it never ends for some, but now there's even compelling rebuttal to that?

Advanced Squad Leader (1)

danbuter (2019760) | about 3 years ago | (#35853652)

They should learn Advanced Squad Leader. They'd learn how to think critically and gain a little bit of history. :)

Cheese? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35853682)

Am I the only one that kept reading it as Cheese not chess?

Poker -- Randomness and Partial Information (3, Insightful)

dcollins (135727) | about 3 years ago | (#35853788)

If there's any game I would want required for students it would be: Poker. (I say this, having been weaned on chess as a kid, and having won a competition in high school.) The problem with chess is at least twofold, in that it has both (a) full information, and (b) no randomness, a bad model for real-world applications, which will not present themselves that way. I'd rather have people playing poker and dealing with (a) probability, (b) partial information, (c) logic and deduction, (d) psychology and reading people, (e) betting and expected values, etc.

The last test I gave in a community college stats class had this question: "True or false: If I roll a fair die 36 times, a one will come up 6 times." Almost everyone in the class said "true". Afterward, I had one of my better students remark with surprise, "So it's not certain?" I'd love to not have to introduce the very idea of probability to students for the first time when they're sophomores in college.

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