Students attend our lectures, not because the mathematics we teach ‘makes lots of fun’ for us, but because they believe they can learn some essential knowledge from us. And each of our young students has only one life to live. We should therefore be able to justify ourselves to our listeners with respect to what we teach them.
In Samoa, when elementary schools were first established, the natives developed an absolute craze for arithmetical calculations. They laid aside their weapons and were to be seen going about armed with slate and pencil, setting sums and problems to one another and to European visitors. The Honourable Frederick Walpole declares that his visit to the beautiful island was positively embittered by ceaseless multiplication and division.