Howardism Musings from my Awakening Dementia
My collected thoughts flamed by hubris
Home PageSend Comment

The Value of Chess

I just finished David Shenk's book, Immortal Game: A History of Chess, and came upon this passage at the end:

We face in our modern, splintered world not only a crisis in education, but more pointedly a crisis of understanding-- of thought and of willingness to engage in thought. We live in an age where the intellectual challenges are unprecedented; just to be an effective consumer one has to be able to navigate a hundred half-truths and advertising tricks every day. Ironically, in our information age, truth is harder to come by because it is so surrounded by facts, slick presentations, and tools of distraction.

One common response to our splintered, postmodern, slippery-truth age is not to think but to instead fall back on a fixed set of beliefs, a strict ideology. In consequence, we have--inside the United States and worldwide-- a growing schism between enlightened, skeptical, thinking individuals and close-minded, fundamentalist ideologues. We are also literally in a war that is rooted in these differences.

This summarizes so succintly, my frustration over the last 7 years. For we have a situation where literally our country is divided in half. And while we can appreciate our inter-connected world and the easy access to knowledge and information, it is this wave of knowledge that is drowning half of our population.

Shenk's solution is pretty simple, and seems to have merit… teach chess.

…We must also address the underlying schism. The single greatest danger to ourselves and future generations is to stop thinking, and it behooves us to do anything we can to encourage spinning, skeptical minds. To do this, we will need powerful thought tools like chess that help our minds expand, grow comfortable with abstraction, and learn to navigate complex systems.

So, this fall, I will be teaching chess as my local elementary school.

Tell others about this article:
Click here to submit this page to Stumble It