Math: It’s in the Cards

By Caroline Cournoyer — April 04, 2011 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Using games to teach math skills is old hat, but a Virginia high school’s decision to sanction after-school poker in a math teacher’s classroom has some people talking.

Last fall, in a story first reported by The Washington Post, George Mason High School in Fairfax, Va., approved a student poker club, sparking concerns from some anti-gambling groups.

At first, the school’s principal, Tyrone Byrd, was hesitant to allow the club. But after researching the game and talking to colleagues, Bryd told the Teacher PD Sourcebook, “It came down to whether or not I trusted the kids and teacher, and if I could find any academic validity to what they were doing. And the answer was yes. So I said, ‘Why not?’”

The principal also laid some strict ground rules: Students can’t use real money, an adult sponsor must be present, and the game’s educational purpose must be clear. Several times during each weekly meeting, one of the student co-founders quizzes members on the probability and statistics of the game, says Byrd.

The idea of playing poker in high school may be controversial, but, according to the Post, universities have offered poker classes for years as a way to teach reasoning and strategic thinking. Chapters of the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society, formed at Harvard University in 2007, have opened at several prestigious universities.

Even so, gambling-awareness groups have raised concerns about the use of poker as a tool to teach teenagers, warning that it may lead to abuse and addiction. Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, says that he isnt categorically opposed to using poker to teach math concepts but wants to ensure that schools are well-educated about the risks.

A version of this article appeared in the April 04, 2011 edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook


Student Well-Being Webinar After-School Learning Top Priority: Academics or Fun?
Join our expert panel to discuss how after-school programs and schools can work together to help students recover from pandemic-related learning loss.
Budget & Finance Webinar Leverage New Funding Sources with Data-Informed Practices
Address the whole child using data-informed practices, gain valuable insights, and learn strategies that can benefit your district.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
ChatGPT & Education: 8 Ways AI Improves Student Outcomes
Revolutionize student success! Don't miss our expert-led webinar demonstrating practical ways AI tools will elevate learning experiences.
Content provided by Inzata

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Mathematics AP Precalculus: What Schools Need to Know About the New Course
The new course from the College Board is meant to replace all pre-existing precalculus courses.
5 min read
Images of math equations.
Mathematics From Our Research Center What Does Math Teaching Look Like in U.S. Schools? 5 Charts Tell the Story
Results from a nationally representative EdWeek Research Center survey show how math teachers source materials and approach problem-solving.
5 min read
Images of math equations.
Mathematics Spotlight Spotlight on Improving Math Fluency
This Spotlight will help you assess math fact fluency, evaluate the challenges students face with word problems, and more.
Mathematics Explainer How Addition Fluency Develops: A Visual Explainer
From basic counting to automatic recall, see how students learn to grasp their addition facts.
1 min read
Illustration of a giant red addition symbol on a field of numbers
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva