More than one further education maths teacher has commented to me about how poor numeracy standards are among students they teach. And in many cases these kids have done maths at school and passed exams in the subject; in the UK we have GCSEs, which have become notorious for ever ‘improving’ results or perhaps deteriorating standards.
What’s the problem? Well it seems that attempts are being made to teach advanced mathematical concepts without laying down a thorough foundation of basic number work. It’s much the same as players wanting to play the openings of World Champions when they’re still overlooking knight forks. There’s a logical progression of ideas in both maths and chess which build on simpler concepts. So without a thorough mastery of early stages the edifice of ‘knowledge’ is built on feet of clay.
Can chess be used to teach maths? Well yes, I’ve seen applications of this, for example by Mr. Mason in the film Knights Of The South Bronx. And here’s another nice illustration from Youtube.