07 May 2017

Applying Chess Skills to Life

In this series on the 'Sociology of Chess', I last covered the FIDE angle in FIDE's Social Commissions (December 2016). One of the two commissions recently issued FIDE Social Action Commission's Report (SAC; March 2017), 'How Chess Can Help Transform Communities Across the World' by Beatriz Marinello, Chair of Social Action Chess Commission. Here is a summary of its main points.

'Why does learning and playing chess make a positive impact in people’s lives?' • Two theories of learning are mentioned in the report. The first was developed by Jean Piaget.

In the 1960s educators and researchers began studying the benefits of learning and practicing chess. At that time, Jean Piaget, a Swiss clinical psychologist, who created the theory of cognitive development was the biggest influence in education and learning. His theory explains how a child constructs a mental model of the world. Jean Piaget disagreed with the idea that intelligence was a fixed trait, and regarded cognitive development as a process which occurs due to biological maturation and interaction with the environment. [...] With the game of chess, naturally, the question is: At what age can children learn chess? [...]

The second was developed by Howard Gardner.

In 1983 American developmental psychologist Howard Gardner presented the theory of Multiple Intelligences. According to Gardner, intelligence is broken down into nine different types, also called the nine domains of intelligence. [...]

I featured Gardner's work a few years ago in Chess and Spatial Intelligence (February 2014). Until this point, the SAC report is a summary of 'Chess in School' theoretical underpinnings, but the report continues.

The progression began from the need to understand how learning a game like chess can have educational value to using chess as a tool for social improvement and enhance people’s lives.

'How can the social aspects of chess transform lives across the world?' • The report presents two mission statements. The first is a statement of objectives.

The FIDE Social Action Commission (SAC) was created at the 83rd FIDE Congress General Assembly [2012] in Istanbul, Turkey. Our mission is to promote the use of chess as an equalizer, especially in the areas of women's equality and making chess accessible to children in at risk communities throughout the world; bridging the gap between the social and economic differences that impact people across the world. The Social Action Commission also promotes the use of chess as an aid for persons at risk from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other mental illnesses particularly among seniors.

The second is a description of methods.

Mission: The main focus of the Social Action Commission programs and projects is to understand the different ways in which to implement chess projects for social enhancement and positive impact in the communities. Our approach has been proven successful. Our Commission has been facilitating FIDE Trainers and Organizers Seminars. We understand that our goal requires the support of the local communities and empower people to work towards the mission of developing and growing chess. The Social Action Commission is involving families and communities; not only children, this provides holistic development and involvement.

The commission's main success today is the 'Smart Girl' chess program, presented in a series of photos.. The report concludes,

We are not just offering chess sets and chess programs, we are offering opportunities to at risk communities through chess and providing guidance on how to apply these chess skills to life in a way that can empower.

Excepting the Alzheimer's angle -- see More on Chess and Alzheimer's (July 2016) for my last post on that subject -- who can argue with empowerment through chess?

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