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Friday, June 22, 2012

Using Chess to Unlock Children’s Latent Intellectual Potential in South Africa

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2012

Hi everyone,

We feel absolutely delighted when chess makes it to the front page or cover story in mainstream media. Here is the latest:

Chess has made it to the cover of Engineering News in South Africa with a special article exploring chess in education.

The Moves for Life (MFL) programme aims to unlock children’s latent intellectual potential through structured exposure to the game of chess – which stimulates the same analytical cerebral functions as academic subjects such as maths and science – and ultimately improve the national performance in these areas.

“Chess essentially rewires the brain, encouraging one to think in a far more logical fashion. It is not just a game,” explains nuclear physicist and MFL cofounder Kelvin Kemm.

He points out that it provides rich, early-age ‘brain training’, and encourages an understanding of concepts such as instantaneous feedback, problem solving, planning and anticipation, and emphasises that the earlier these thinking skills are stimulated, the better.

MFL cofounder Marisa van der Merwe, a long-time chess tutor and developer of MFL’s junior programme, MiniChess, adds that it is critical to expose children at the earliest possible age.

“Many children in South Africa who come from underprivileged homes are not stimulated and, as a result, the necessary brain development does not take place. This programme will eliminate the issue of children who are not mentally prepared to deal with the start of their academic career,” she says.

The MFL programme, which has been implemented at more than 70 schools across the country since its inception in 2010, hosts over 11 000 children each week and has also produced some unexpected results.

“The most surprising upshot of this process is the degree to which the children’s self-confidence has improved, because, for some of them, this is the first time they feel capable of learning and sense that they are part of a group,” explains MFL cofounderMickey Scheepers. The legendary Garry Kasparov is a great supporter of this programme. Read the full article on chess in education in South Africa here.

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