The reaction some people have to algebraic expressions and the notation used therein is nothing short of silly. In a highschool physics class, I can remember people getting real shaken up by all the different notations. Mu??? OMG!!! (head explodes)

I propose making handheld versions of all the common
greek notations and mathematical stuff out of squishy fun colorful material. This would be good symbolic priming for toddlers who could squish and chew on mu all day long and grow up feeling very good about coefficients of friction without even knowing it until that fateful day when the birds seem to chirp a different song, and the wandering boy feels he can belong, in a world full of phi and other symbols oblong.

I'm with you [Brau], the only reason we have so many arcane symbols in maths and chemistry is because most of it was invented by alchemists and occultists - groups of people not well known for their fondness of the spread of information.

Still, I'm not entirely sure that replacing classic Greek symbols with brightly coloured blobs is the right approach. There are perfectly good alphabetic characters we can all use, and I am completely unaware of any formula that needs more than 26 variables in one go.

But, aside from the fact that having spent a certain amount of your unremembered infancy with a throbbing, slevvery mouth full of chewable, stretchable thetas, mus and dts will have imparted a small, possibly only just quantifiable, amount of familiarity with the form of the symbols, this scheme does not increase, or even seek to increase, understanding of the concepts represented by the symbols solo or in concert. Indeed, with this casual juxtaposition of the pendulum swing lessons of babyhood and the complex, obfuscatory hieroglyphs of sciences most geeky there is the very real possibility that crude and accidental conditioning, yes, possibly Pavlovian, could ensue. The result, a classroom of previously over achieving pushy-parented adolescents, some struck dumb, some wailing and soiling themselves, reflexively reaching, almost as one, for the nearest breast at the merest chalk-scrawling of a delta-t or sigma.

It's not the symbols, it's the teaching. Math(s) is one of those subjects you can't teach unless you understand it, and if you understand it, you can't see why other people don't understand it, and if you can't see why other people don't understand it, you can't teach it.

Having developed this "aver"sion, I went on to become an engineer.