School has started, and by now, most of us have entered our regular routine, whatever it may be. Some prefer to take a nap before they start their homework, while some prefer to procrastinate till 12 at night. Despite the differences in our individual schedules, we all have one thing in common: homework. Now imagine that other than your regular math, and science homework, you had homework for... chess!
The Armenian Ministry of Education recently made it mandatory for students age six and above to study chess in the classroom for at least two hours per week. Armenia is on its way to become a chess superpower with their top player, Levon Aronian, ranking number three in the world, and their national team winning at the biennial International Chess Olympiad in 2006 and 2008. With these new mandatory chess lessons, Armenia hopes to bring about a wave of talented chess players to enhance their army of professional chess players.
Despite Armenia's bad economic standing, Armenian Presdient Serzh Sargsyan and the Chess Academy of Armenia have decided to invest approximately $1.5 million in this program. The program is being implemented on the basis that it will nurture the students' intellectual development and teach them to think flexibly and wisely.
While the advantages of such a program are self-evident (intellectual development, recreational integration, etc.), the disadvantages seem to be non-existent.. at least at a glance. The economic repercussions of such a big investment are unknown but even without the economic prospect, the program may not necessarily be advantageous for the students.
Although details about how Armenia plans to go about this integration are yet unknown, one fact remains intact. If the students are required to study chess for two hours a week at school, that invariably means that the students lose two hours a week of school. Over the period of 12 years (age 6 - 18) this seemingly small number adds up to approximately 1080 hours. This means that students lose 1080 hours they might have otherwise spent learning any of the various subjects taught at schools.
Is it worth it? That is for you to decide.
Director of Communications, CITL