Bridge in Schools
Rather than build a coherent response to the NYTimes essay on Bridge in schools, just some thoughts:
- Obviously, good for Bridge.
- You are a superintendent for a school district, and you are willing to admit that Bridge is too complicated for you? Seriously? Why not just say “I don’t have time to learn.”
- There are a lot of choices about which games actually help students (as this BGG thread covers). A good game should reward being able to look ahead and concentration. Useful skills. Actually, I should say “Useful habits.” The skills in chess and bridge don’t actually translate well to many real world tasks, but the practice of analyzing a situation and looking ahead do. On the plus side, a good bridge player should know exactly what 13 minus an integer is. And that comes in handy in elementary school.
- In my mind, probably bridges big win over most other games is that it explicitly forces you to acknowledge someone else’s state of mind. Sure, you want your bid to mean something or you want your partner to switch to a heart, but other people can’t read your mind. They can only react to your actions, not your intentions. THAT is a valuable lesson that far too many adults haven’t learned.
- I don’t believe any of the hype about “Students who learned GAME X have better scores by half a grade level.” I think students that like mental challenges test better. Even the results phrased like “Game X improved test scores” may just be related to motivation. If being in the Gifted Program lets you skip out of a boring class, that can easily cause people to try harder. I suspect most gains are not intrinsic improvements, just having some skin in the game.
- Using a social game (unlike Chess) is a good idea in the age of the iPod.
- Sad note, Nobody puts any value on children having fun. They are selling bridge (to adults) as “Play Bridge and your kid will learn math better.” Not as, “Your child may enjoy playing bridge, and maybe pick up a few useful habits.” Bluntly, school is boring. So making it fun is good in and of itself. And bridge is cheap (a few decks of cards). And once you learn you can play at lunch, or on the bus.
- I would assume that many bridge clubs would teach for free, but I guess the donations go for printed materials. And bridge teachers may be intimidated by teaching to 8 year olds. Probably quite different than teaching to adults.
- Apropos of nothing, the youngest player I see at local sectionals is around 12. The next youngest players are in their late 30s, I think. the ACBLs average age of 67 sounds reasonable, but remember how averages work. One 12 year old cancels out 5 80 year olds. I suspect the median age at tournaments is in the low 60s, but younger retirees are more likely to travel than a nonagenerian. (That said, our local nonagenerian is tremendously good. My partner and I hope he gets boring hands, because he plays the hell out of the cards).