My old pal, Paul Lockhart, has written a brilliant critique of contemporary mathematics education entitled "A Mathematician's Lament: How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art Form."
"Sadly, our present system of mathematics education is precisely this kind of nightmare. In fact, if I had to design a mechanism for the express purpose of destroying a child’s natural curiosity and love of pattern-making, I couldn’t possibly do as good a job as is currently being done— I simply wouldn’t have the imagination to come up with the kind of senseless, soul crushing
ideas that constitute contemporary mathematics education. Everyone knows that something is wrong. The politicians say, “we need higher standards.”
The schools say, “we need more money and equipment.” Educators say one thing, and teachers say another. They are all wrong. The only people who understand what is going on are the ones most often blamed and least often heard: the students. They say, “math class is stupid and boring,” and they are right."