Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chess and Reading

To sum up,"While most students in District 9 performed below the national average in reading skills, most chessplayers performed above the national average." and,"At the end of the year, [non-chessplayers] showed no gain in percentile ranking—while the chessplayers gained 5.7 percentiles!" Again, Why? The teachers "proclaimed" that chess enhanced confidence and ego, and that students that feel good about themselves read better. Then one should argue that any activity that enhances self-confidence should benefit the student. The study dd not compare other activities of children with chess-playing children. Maybe next time. The article continues, chess organizers believe "playing chess develops general intelligence, self-control, analytic skill, and increased ability to concentrate. Because of this, enhanced reading skills naturally follow." Again, a rather large leap without any other activities that foster the same skills, taken into account. Since the study did not distinguish between non-chess playing kids, the fact that chess had such gains is even more astounding, as the non-chess playing group probably had some kids active in other activities (i.e., music, athletics, art, etc.). This should wash out some of the differences. Whatever the reason, the observation that chess improves reading is clear. My own daughter was of reading concern by her teachers, with low IRI reading scores, however, after a year of chess, tournaments, and weekly chess games, she was rated as "advanced" for the state-mandated ISAT reading test scores. When I asked her why? She said that she was able to focus and was even the last one out of the test room. "I didn't feel like I was in a hurry".

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