The United States’ K-12 educational education system does not deliver. Roughly one third of American high school students drop out, while another third graduate, but are ill prepared for the next stages of life. The American education system is widely criticized by progressive educators looking for ways to improve the system, by government attempting to regulate and better evaluate the system, and by parents looking for alternative education through charter, private and home schools.

Former U.S. Labor Secretary William Brock currently leads the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, which was created to report on the state of the U.S. educational system. To fix the American educational system, Mr. Brock stated the following: “In the last 25 years, spending has risen 240% while performance has barely changed. Only 68% of students graduate from high school...We need to ensure that standardized tests of rote knowledge don’t drive education away from the very things that have made America special [including]: critical thinking…Education is the key to better jobs, higher incomes, and greater growth in what has become an extremely competitive global economy.” Parade Magazine, July 6, 2008 (emphasis added)

Bill Gates offered a brutal critique of the nation’s high schools, describing them as “obsolete”, “When I compare our high schools with what I see when traveling abroad, I am terrified for our workforce of tomorrow…By obsolete, I mean our high schools – even when they’re working as designed – cannot teach all our students what they need to know today.” National Education Summit on High Schools:

What is the most troubling is the inability of many students to think critically; to review all available information; and to make sound, reasonable judgments based on logical reasoning. Students, as Socrates knew, are capable of discovering truth if given the opportunity. Objective tests that require memorization do not teach analytical thinking skills. Students must be required to solve problems, often time finding multiple solutions to these problems (and perhaps an optimal one) and to challenge ideas with well substantiated ideas of their own. Bill Beattie, an American author, stated it best: “The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think - rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with thoughts of other men. (emphasis added) [John Dewey,

Indeed, critical thinking is essential in preparing students for their future. In addition to critical thinking, skills such as pattern recognition, seeing the bigger picture, optimized decision making, dealing with time pressure, understanding the thought processes of others (be they one’s colleagues or competition), developing intuition and the courage to act upon it, etc. are imperative to one’s success.

Chess is a natural way to teach children critical thinking, planning, and decision making. And children learn and hone all such skills necessary for daily life while playing and enjoying one of the world’s oldest games.

By developing the cognitive abilities of participants, chess instruction helps teachers in different academic areas address specific proficiency outcomes, (as well as positively affecting discipline and the social skills of children.) Harold O. Levy, Chancellor, Board of Education of the City of New York wrote, “I have witnessed how chess works as an educational tool to teach our children how to become better learners. The chess in school program has demonstrated how through chess children can improve their concentration, work habits, logical thinking and other skills related to school success. Chess in schools program made a profound difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of children by providing to them that they can succeed in their intellectual pursuit.” Chess programs could be used in every school to aid schools in improving pupils’ minds instead of totally focusing on taking in more information. And smarter & more intelligent students acquire information much easier!

Additional information about benefits of chess:
  • “Benefits of Chess for Academic Performance and Creative Thinking”
  • Results of an 18-months pilot chess program at a local elementary school. The result of the pilot study confirms that a professionally introduced chess program delivers direct academic benefits.