Mathematics suffers much, but most of all from its teachers. As a
result of bad pedagogy--and I mean the kind often judged best by
administrative pedagogues--the appearance of an algebraic formula, a
geometrical figure, or an innocent set of symbols reduces the reader
to an unbecoming attitude of hypocritical humility.
A great many
sometime students of mathematics try to persuade themselves that they
haven't mathematical minds, when as a matter of fact they have only
had nonmathematical teachers.
Mathematics is not what most teachers
of mathematics teach. They, with the good intention of conveying
what they themselves have only as a skill of manipulation, have
unconsciously worked hocus-pocus on their pupils. They have repeated
and illustrated opaque formulae, sometimes to the admiration, but
almost always to the bewilderment, of their students.
Poetry and Mathematics, 1929