Writing in the Columbia Spectator, math professor Paul Siegel offers the retort he wishes he'd fired back when he overheard a campus tour guide insulting his discipline last spring.
Siegel characterizes mathematics as "a living, breathing being that inhabits the world's deepest mysteries and most profound secrets" and seeks to dispel three of the most prevalent myths about the subject: that it's dead, useless, and inhospitable to creativity.
He challenges his student readers:
Try to interact with mathematics in a new and better way. Use the creative part of your brain to question assumptions and seek new connections instead of just memorizing calculations. Think of new problems to which your current techniques might be relevant, instead of focusing on the narrow range of problems that you were taught to solve.
Read the piece.