The Math CircleDear Math Circle Parents, Students, Colleagues and Friends,
Success has its drawbacks. The Math Circle we began and have run at Harvard since 1995 has become such an attractive model for empowering kids and letting them invent their way together into the marvels of math, that we're now besieged with requests to open them massively elsewhere, as well as on line. In the past year we've begun 507 Math Circles in Brazil, with the number rising to 600 soon, serving 5100 students. This winter UNESCO will publish and circulate to policy-makers around the world a book on our approach. The drawback, as you will have deduced, is that the time for running our own Circles here is severely cut into.
Three further problems intensify this. In May we lost to graduation five of our wonderful teachers, and have looked in vain for replacements of comparable quality. Second, time for our own work has grown steadily more limited by the demands of Math Circle administration. This isn't something that can be farmed out, to be done impersonally or mechanically. The last - and last straw - is Harvard's new, university-wide policy regarding classes with minors. The drastic limitations and bureaucratically imposed supervision (for example, we and our teachers would each have to be screened and undergo insulting training programs) - is institutional blindness to our two decades of careful selection, and would cancel with suspicion the spirit famously summarized by the great Georg Cantor: Mathematics is freedom. We have tried in vain since June to solve these problems.
You will understand that for these reasons we cannot now continue our classes this coming semester. We will have to see how all of this plays out, and will keep in touch with you. Our real regret is that we and your children won't have the pleasure of discovering mathematics together this fall.
Bob & Ellen Kaplan
The Math Circle does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, national or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational and admission policies. We are non-profit and welcome contributions.