Learning to make our future a safer bet

12th January 2007 at 00:00
I agree with the sentiments expressed by Professor Alastair Gillespie on the promotion of probability in the context of games and gambling (p6).

The potential (and need) for improvement in numeracy skills is significant, and games (including those that can be gambled on) offer good contexts for better understanding of probability. These contexts could range from the simple throwing of a dice to predicting trends in the futures market, which involves gambling daily and which affects all our lives.

So, yes to dice, cards and board games as an ideal and additional context for numeracy.

Despite maths being a favourite subject for many younger pupils, it can be a drudgery for disaffected older pupils, some of whom will be drawn to aspects of gambling without having the numerical fluency to be safe.

Having a higher awareness of probability in a wider range of contexts, including gambling, would have social benefits and I would welcome such experiences for all pupils at school - and adults who have left - if it were underpinned by quality lessons that clarify the probabilities of outcomes.

Given that some people gamble more than they can afford, with variable chances of a profitable return, it would be socially healthier if there was a higher awareness of exposure that could lead to more sensible gambling.

As an example, we've been gambling with the planet's future since the industrial revolution and have reached a critical stage with the environmental dice. Our children need to know their chances.

Tom Renwick

Maths on Track


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