Years ago, one of my doctoral students at IMPA confessed to me that when he went to the beach he took a book to study, but always with a cover: “If they see that I’m reading mathematics, nobody talks to me… and I want to get a girlfriend!”.
Mathematics really has a unique ability to provoke all sorts of reactions and restrictions when it comes up in normal conversation. It’s a shame, because mathematical concepts are everywhere, and rejecting them only deprives us of an important way to understand and enjoy the world around us.
Lewis Carroll, the author of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Alice Through the Looking-Glass”, was a math teacher and, in fact, these classics of children’s literature are filled with mathematical ideas, which add a lot to the enchantment of the story. I was pleased to note that my children were aware of this in reading. But for many the experience of reading “Alice” is incomplete, superficial.
If not fully appreciating a book may seem like a minor detriment, the evils of rejecting mathematics are deeper, affecting both the formation of the citizen – because it is not possible to fully live the 21st century without a reasonable mastery of basic mathematical skills – as well as the individual himself. national development.
I wrote here last week that in advanced countries math-based economic activity generates a substantial fraction (15% to 20%) of gross domestic product, in addition to offering wages well above the national average. The exercise of such activities obviously requires trained professionals for whom mathematics is an ally, not an enemy.
The challenge of demystifying this image of mathematics is the raison d’être of the second National Festival of Mathematics, which begins this Thursday (29) at Marina da Glória, in Rio de Janeiro. In the wake of the success of the first edition, held in 2017 with 18,000 visitors, the festival offers a rich program of lectures, workshops, games, exhibitions, cinema and theater, aimed at showing mathematics for what it is: thought-provoking, fun, useful, Enchanting.
Applications for schools have long since sold out. But there are still openings for the general public, on Friday and Saturday. Entrance is free, subject to availability. What are you waiting for to book on the website www.festivaldamatematica.org.br?