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Matematik Köyü

August 15, 2007 am31 6:25 am

Matematik Köyü – that’s Turkish for Mathematics Village, which is a strange idea indeed, and has caused more furor than anything else in math in the last year or two or hundred…

Math summer school shut for “teaching without permission”???

What? It is a place in Turkey where students come to do extra math, because they want to. No grades, no credits, just math. Kooky, huh? I read about it on Alexandre Borovik’s Mathematics under the Microscope, and followed the links to what looks like the summer lecture schedule.

to oblige a university professor to ask for permission to teach his/her own specialty is against the academic freedom, apart from being insulting.

Who? This project appears to be the brainchild of Ali Nesin, son of famous Turkish author and comedian Aziz Nesin. His father’s work was satirical, and had an anti-clerical edge. After translating The Satanic Verses into Turkish, he may have been the target of a murderous arson in Sivas (central Anatolia) in 1983. Thirty-seven other people were killed.

There’s a petition. I signed it. You can probably sign it too.

(more beneath the fold —>)Ali is a mathematician. Here’s his cv. Notice he lists his junior high school. And way way far down the page he mentions some articles he’s published: “Several popular and less popular mathematical articles…” His father wasn’t the only one with a sense of humor.

Where? I’m not sure who “they” is, but Ali Nesin is certainly part of the “they.” Anyhow, they got some land near Ephesus, not far from the Aegean on Turkey’s west coast, in a town called Şirince. They built a lecture hall. They are working on some baths. And a few additional structures.

So what happened? Charges and charges. Zoning things, mostly. In the land of gecekondu (built at night squatter houses), zoning is usually not an issue. One of the charges seems to be “education without permission.” Look, here’s what Nesin wrote to Borovik:

They cut our telephone line and we do not have internet anymore. That is why I am late in replying your message. Thanks a lot for coming and supporting our institution. We are all in tents. They closed down the summer school.

They are about to open tens of law suits against me, one of which is for education without permission. But we continue our summer school heroically.

We were in all channels and newspapers today and we will continue to be on the news tomorrow. My phone did not stop all day long. There is an amazing support from the public.
Today inspectors from the forestry department came. They want us to leave the forest!.. But we continue our summer school heroically.

But also look at Global Pioneering’s post with Nesin’s response in the comments. I reproduce them, in part:

…When we were told to empty the buildings we stayed in tents and had classes in the open air. …came to tell us to leave the tents as well because some were erected in the forest; the next day we are told to leave the camp grounds completely… We refused of course. …

All that time we never interrupted classes, except for one day, when we had to level the ground in order to erect the tents and to construct a shade for an open air classroom.

I am told to ask for permission to teach, that I am refusing. I think that to oblige a university professor to ask for permission to teach his/her own specialty is against the academic freedom, apart from being insulting. In fact 27th article of the Turkish Constitution guarantees the freedom to teach and learn arts and sciences.

The prosecutor is still investigating charges against me. There are three of them I believe: 1) Founding illegal institution, 2) Illegal teaching, 3) Illegal construction. … 1) There is no institution, 2) I don’t think I need a permit to teach, 3) Yes, the construction is illegal due to bureaucratic difficulties…

Why? I would guess solid politics. But follow Borovik’s other links, they are at the bottoms of his posts. In at least one there is speculation that this was just headline seeking local authorities. But I don’t think things work that way in Turkey.

And now? There’s a petition. I signed it. You can probably sign it too. Don’t get too upset that the name of the single purpose blog is “Save Summer School.” We know what he means.

Thanks to Vlorbik and the Carnival of Mathematics for running the link, and to Alexandre for blogging the details.

Oh, and if you got this far, 20 odd year ago, I think Ali taught me to play bridge. But it’s not in the cv.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 15, 2007 pm31 6:31 pm 6:31 pm

    It is not so important who they are. They are us, people who love mathematics:)

    If u have any questions, i would try to answer them if i can.

    Ali İlik (Student from Mathematics Village)

  2. August 15, 2007 pm31 7:24 pm 7:24 pm

    I think the big question, “Why now?” can wait until the immediate issues are resolved.

    Congratulations, by the way, in taking part what seems a wonderful venture. Let’s hope there will be many more math camps!


  1. Save Summer School « JD2718
  2. Matematik Köyü | Edwize

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