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School & District Management

Should Poker Be Allowed in Schools?

By Caroline Cournoyer — November 30, 2010 1 min read

Despite opposition from anti-gambling groups, one northern Virginia high school is using poker to teach math, according to a Washington Post article.

In September, George Mason High School started the poker club, which quickly became one of its most popular extracurricular activities. The principal did set some rules, though: Students can’t use real money and the game’s educational purpose must be clear. For fifteen minutes during every club meeting, the student co-founder reviews and quizzes members on the probability and statistics involved in the game, according to the report.

But anti-gambling groups argue that playing poker in school may lead to abuse and addiction, says the Post. Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, has concerns, “The excitement that a win produces, whether or not it’s for money, can have profound effects on decision-making in a young brain.”

Prestigious universities, though, have offered poker classes for years. In 2007, Harvard Law School Professor Charles Nesson formed the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society at the university. He says it not only helps students understand math but also reasoning and human behavior.

Where do you stand on this issue? Do you think using poker in the classroom will lead to addiction or is it an effective teaching tool?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.