Wednesday, 06 Aug, 2008 Offbeat

Schoolgirls Are Given Lessons on How to Bet at Races


Pupils that study at a Brisbane Catholic school for girls are being taught about how to bet on races. Each girl who studies at the prestigious Mt St Michael's College was granted an imaginary $50 so they could spend the money over 4 hours at the Doomben racetrack. The girls' teacher wasn't left behind - he amused himself by placing several bets of his own. During the next weeks the pupils will be given lessons on casino gambling.

It seems that such exercises were aimed towards improving the skills of some pupils at maths. Members of the Australian Family Association accused the Mt St Michael's College of leading pupils off the track. However, Jim Dooley, who is a teacher of math at the inner-west Brisbane school, mentioned that pupils aged 16 and 17 would learn how to bet correctly.

"The main objective of this is for the girls to research a mathematics assignment based on risk and return. We encourage them to have fun with it while they are learning. It also shows them the sharp end of gambling when they see that most people don't get a return out of it," said Mr Dooley.

According to a research performed by the Australian National University, over 10 percent of pupils in years 7 and 12 gamble on a regular scale. About half of those students were categorized as "problem" gamblers.

Mark Holzworth, the state president of the Australian Family Association outlined that young people should not be taught to think that gambling was okay.

"There is no way we can endorse this method of alternate learning. There are creative ways of teaching children maths skills and life skills, but this is pushing the fringe further than it needs to be pushed. For many, gambling would be considered a vice," he said.

"We don't send children to tobacco factories or breweries, so why are we sending them to a racetrack?"

Lisa Stanley, Brisbane gambling counselor, mentioned that exposure and addiction are very close to each other.


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