Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Speaking of curriculum -- Armenian edition

From NPR's The World:

Armenia’s public schools started mandatory chess classes for every second, third and fourth grader in the former Soviet republic this year. Twice a week, seven- to ten-year-old Armenians are getting a half hour of instruction in chess basics, with the goal of being able to play a competent game by the end of fourth grade.

One of those schools is Public School 81 where Grigor Martikian is drilling 20 second graders on how to move the bishop. He positions a bishop into the corner of a large model board in front of the class.

The students follow along on chess mats on their desks.

Edouard Aroustian and Seta Kevorkian are both seven and have learned a new checkmate move. When I ask them if they know about Armenia’s national chess team, they nod and smile.

That team was the pride of Armenia this past summer, when it won the World Chess Team Championship in Ningbo, China. Armenians treat chess champions like star athletes. Chess is one of the most popular games here and there are 32 grandmasters in a population of about 3 million.

If only I could talk them into trying octagonal games...

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