This story in the Baltimore Sun chronicles the growth of a chess club in the Baltimore public school system over the past few years. According to the article, the program has not only helped kids learn how to play chess and improve their concentration, it has also helped keep them out of trouble and improve their academic performance all-around. Here’s what one of the chess coaches in the article had to say:
I've watched kids, particularly girls, who had very little confidence build a huge amount of confidence. I've seen it over and over, academically and the way they carry themselves generally in life. The chess board is math, algebra, geometry and logical reasoning - it helps kids in all those areas. A good choice has a good consequence, and a bad choice has a bad consequence."
The whole article really speaks to the importance of after-school activities like clubs and sports. It seems to me that even if those kinds of programs don’t have a specifically academic focus, the skills they teach often have far-reaching effects on student performance and an ability to tap into kids’ motivation levels in a way that traditional classes can’t.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.