Serve esta entrada apenas para informar da existência desta petição, embora saiba perfeitamente que nem 0.1% das pessoas será aqui que dela toma conhecimento.
NOTA: o texto foi corrigido às 20:06
ADENDA DE 8-4-2008: esta petição já começa a ser noticiada:
« AUSTRALIA’S most internationally prominent mathematician, Terry Tao, urged on by a child prodigy, has put his standing behind a push to save the threatened maths department at the University of Southern Queensland.
Dr Tao, winner in 2006 of the top international maths award, the Fields medal, has set up a petition on a webpage to voice his dismay and quantify disappointment in the science community.
USQ last month announced that it planned to slash academic positions in maths and statistics from 14 to six. Staff might also be cut from computing, physics and chemistry. Cuts would eliminate majors in mathematics, statistics, physics and chemistry.
The proposed cuts fly in the face of federal government policy aimed at reversing such losses.
USQ acting vice-chancellor Graham Barker said the university’s hand had been forced because students were “not being encouraged to take on maths and science subjects while at school”.
“Professional associations and mathematicians need to recognise the role they have to play in promoting maths at primary school,” he said.
“To try and reverse the trend when students are applying for university courses is difficult.”
Adam Walsh, 10, who lives near Toowoomba, the home of USQ, asked Dr Tao for ideas on how to keep the maths department alive. Dr Tao, who works at the University of California, Los Angeles, told Adam he was “very angry and upset at these decisions” by USQ and that he would “try to raise awareness as fast as we can”.
Adam’s father, Steve, said his son had studied first-year algebra, calculus and computing at USQ but that what he would miss most was mentoring by academics.
Dr Tao’s petition, set up on Saturday, had attracted more than 200 letters of support by yesterday. One, from Australian expatriate Matthew Emerton, of Northwestern University in Illinois, said: “I fear that USQ students will be condemned to be trained merely as users of technology in the service industries rather than as creators of new sciences and technologies.”
Dr Tao studied maths as a 12-year-old at Adelaide’s Flinders University, where maths has also suffered a cut. He told Adam in an email: “I had a fantastic maths education at Flinders … I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunities or education I had if Flinders then was in the state it istoday.” »
Actualização de 11-4-2008: colocadas aspas no título e, por isso, substituído “by” por “por”.
ADENDA DE 19-4-2008 (ca. 11h02m): transcrevo aqui parte do último comentário que aparece nesta petição online iniciada pelo Professor Terence Tao, por concordar com o que é dito:
Mathematics is likely to suffer because its benefits are hard to measure. Ian Stewart describes it as “the ultimate in technology transfer” because the techniques of logical thinking, reasoning, and attacking problems which are learnt in a mathematics degree can be applied to any problem which life throws up; but mathematics does not have the near-market results that our funders seem to prefer. »