Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Chess, life, and right answers

The games drew about 15 chess enthusiasts to a windowless conference room at City College in Harlem, where pawns and rooks were moved with such intensity of purpose that the scene could have passed for yet another high-stakes tournament.

The grandmaster and bona fide chess luminary Maurice Ashley was there, calling out commentary as he often does when championship matches are broadcast around the world. He is known to use lines like, "Pawns are attacking mercilessly!" and "The bishop is slicing and dicing!"

But what Mr. Ashley had to say about chess on this night was more academic. Literally. "A lot of times in education we try to teach kids the one right answer and that leads, in my opinion, to robotic thinking," he told the players, encouraging them to think of multiple possible moves before choosing the best play. "Real life isn't like that. Is there ever one right answer? Generating alternatives for the sake of alternatives is a good thing."
From an article in the New York Times on "Introduction to Logical Thinking Through Chess," a course for NYC teachers. You can read the article by clicking here.

[To read articles in the Times, use mediajunkie as your name and password.]

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