Saturday 3 December 2011

A Divine Idea

My gambling education at school began, rather curiously, in the weekly 40 minute 'Divinity' class which I believe was mandated for schools by law back in the 70s. With everyone in the classroom, including the teacher, fully aware that religion was already an outdated and ridiculous idea, the class usually turned into a general discussion on random topics, one of which was gambling. As kids, we all saw the horse racing on Grandstand on a Saturday, with talk of 11 to 8, 100-30 etc., but what these meant, or indeed the origins of such seeming obscure numbers came from (why 6-4, not 3-2?) was never explained to me until one memorable Divinity lesson. Later in my schooling, this foundation was built upon when I studied, and passed, 'A' level Pure Mathematics With Statistics, where probability was obviously a main topic. I was all set for life. That I took the Statistics class at all was all down to a twist of fate, the result of a childhood prank that had far reaching effects on my life. Had I been a good boy, life would have been very different.

Anyway, to ensure that kids these days are better prepared for life, the Press Association reports that:
Labour has lent backing to proposals for children as young as 12 to be taught about gambling.

Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg said pupils needed "information to prepare them for the adult world".

The call came after an industry-funded body suggested secondary schools should teach that studying the form of race horses, dogs and sports teams can improve chances of winning a bet.

In a submission to a government review of personal, social and health education (PSHE), gambling addiction charity GamCare also said youngsters should play the dice game craps and learn about fruit machines, according to The Times.

Detailed lesson plans have apparently been prepared, some of which state as their objective "to enable students to increase their knowledge and understanding about gambling".

One proposes a class discussion in which pupils are asked to identify "some of the more positive aspects of gambling" as well as negative points and to understand why people bet.

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said: "This is something that shouldn't be left to chance.

"With the rise of online gambling, there is clearly a need for children and young people to be given good advice.

"It is right that, just like drug and alcohol addiction, teenagers and children are given information to prepare them for the adult world.

"The Government should listen to concerns from charities and include gambling awareness in the reviewed guidance on PSHE education. This is something that shouldn't be left to chance."
Now that really would be a useful 40 minute weekly lesson. As the great George Carlin liked to say, religion is bullshit. An understanding of probability is a useful skill to have in many areas of life.

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