Like most enthusiasts, those who love mathematics are keen to share their joy and disappointed when few leap at the chance to do some quadratic equations or dynamic geometry. A problem mostly affecting teachers, it is also a worry for governments, including that of Britain, keen to keep ahead or even just abreast in science and technology. Views on the causes of this problem vary, from cranial ‘hard wiring’ to the software of ‘culture’, including national culture, and several points between. Although the fl ight from maths is much lamented, there is also a widespread feeling that those who can and those who cannot do mathematics are almost different species. Mathematician John McLeish (1991) calls this the ‘binary assumption’, while Alan Cane (2007), in a review of some popular books about mathematics, doubts the feasibility of such an exercise and concludes, ‘Those willing and able to be excited by mathematical ideas will live with the equations. The rest are a lost cause’ (p. 31). From each side there is incomprehension: those who can do mathematics cannot understand how anyone else can fail to do likewise, while the permanently bewildered are unable to imagine what it might take to be good at mathematics. Still, the ‘binary assumption’ cannot account for the declining interest in mathematics, or the fact that in Britain children, at ever younger ages, are claiming that they do not like the subject.