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article imageThe Mathematics of Gambling

By brad_lucas     Aug 6, 2008 in World
Australian Family Association are up in arms after a maths teacher in Brisbane, Australia, takes his class to the racetrack.
In a novel way to teach his class of 16 & 17 year old students the mathematics behind risk and return, Jim Dooley, a maths teacher at Mt St Michael's College in Brisbane took the class to the local racetrack and gave them each an imaginary $50 to spend on bets.
The Australian Family Association's Queensland president, Mark Holzworth, said the exercise served only to introduce the children to the "vices" of gambling.
"My initial reaction was one of amazement, acknowledging that young people today face so many more challenges in preparation for adult life, and one challenge they don't need is the distraction of gambling and its associated vices," Mr Holzworth said.
"I do understand that it's important for teachers to be creative and engaging with kids, certainly with topics that can be potentially dry such as mathematics.
"I'm sure the teacher prevailed upon them to understand the financial metrics of the exercise, but I don't think that the kids would have really drawn from that .... the key take-out would be a sanctioning and mainstreaming of gambling habits."
Other maths teachers around Australia disagree with Mr Holzworth and suggest the students would take the complete opposite from the lesson.
"Part of the reason ... would be that the students see that by looking at the mathematics of gambling that ... you usually don't get your money back, you end up losing." said Steve Thornton, a lecturer in maths education at the University of Canberra and a former president of the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers.
And remember, this all comes from a country which practically shuts down for a horse race, The Melbourne Cup.
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