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Help for the Mathematically Insecure

When doing/reading/ writing mathematics, teachers and students often use physical clues as to the value.

For example, on homework, if one finds a lot of cancelled work, side notes, notes of "ahas!", creased pages, yellow-lined statements, etc., the assumption warranted is that lots of thought has occurred and thus some value is attached.

But, if the page is pristine, one gets the feeling that the page has not been read/experienced by anyone else, and thus it perhaps is of little value overall.

We need the help of Irish author Flann O'Brien, who envisioned a "book-handling service for the culturally insecure." That is, once paid, the service would crease book spines for you, dog-ear pages, color-mark passages, and annotate chapters with reflective comments. The end appearance is that you were a competent, intelligent book-user.

So, where is the homework-handling service for the mathematically insecure? It is needed, to put some life into what is often passed in as "homework."

Student pride must have been lost somewhere in the past 20 years or so...

Source: Adapted from F. O'Brien's The Best of Myles (1977), p. 22