Some wykehamist has argued that all young people should be forced to study Mathematics until they are 18 years old.
I've nothing against Mathematics or mathematicians. On the contrary: the subject seemed to attract the same analytical minds as Latin and Greek. So very often, sensible young people chose Greek-and-Latin-and-Maths for their troika of subjects. They revisited the College years later, their faces distended by the exertions of London's clubs, with their tales of dangerous life in the distant and arid wastelands of the Treasury or the Foreign Office.
But if 'too few' of the young opt for Mathematics, the guilty women and men are ... not the poor young people themselves, but teachers who fail to make their subjects compelling or even tolerable.
In our current debate, bouncy people keep getting interviewed on TV (for a fee?) and rabbit on about how totally fascinating Mathematics is. Perhaps it is is for them; but why, then, are their former students queuing up in such vast droves to opt out of the subject?
Last time we had this same national discussion, we were told that those prepared to teach Mathematics should be paid more. (Why, if it's such fun?)
I can think of nothing more subversive of good Common Room relationships (both personal and professional) than this. How are the rest of us expected to feel, seeing crass and ineffective fools whose students attain lamentable grades in public examinations, being paid more than us just for "being Mathematicians"?
In principle, teachers who consistently show poorly in the public examinations of their students should be invited to move on and to take the fascinations of their subject elsewhere.