Honours have order of own

Discussion of relative likelihood occurs quite frequently in newspapers. The article presented here can be used as a model of what to look for. The short article was associated with a longer one about a report concerning the need to overhaul Australia's honours system (A matter of Honour). If used in connection with a social science lesson, students might like to obtain the report to see how the figures in the article were obtained.

A point for discussion is the different way that likelihood is described in the two paragraphs. In the first a multiplicative factor is used while in the second percentages are employed. Given that women and men are the only categories of people involved, it is possible for students to calculate how many times more likely it is for a man to be nominated than a woman (2.7). The fact that 2.7 is so much less dramatic that 85 may explain why the writer chose another way of presenting the information in the second paragraph. Students may like to discuss this, think up examples of their own, and write reports using the figures. This could easily overlap mathematics and social science topics, especially in integrated middle school classes.

Often realistic examples of impossible events are difficult to find. Here we have a natural example. What is the probability that a blue collar worker has received an award higher than the Medal of the Order? (Zero)

Where to next?

Student Questions for this article
Newspaper article
Index - Related articles
Index - Chance and Basic Probability
Numeracy in the News - Main Index