Stuff like this really makes my blood boil! Our math education has enough problems as it is... we don't need people to go around screwing it up even more! I find a very good summary of the innate evil of this idea here.
Ever since learning about modular arithmetic, I cursed my elementary school teachers for not teaching me about it as soon as I understood clocks and division, so that it could be more intuitive for me as a college student. Is modular arithmetic generally useful? For most people, no. Is it any harder to learn about than fractions? No. Can it lead to talking about more interesting, fun things to do with math? Yes. Could it be a good head start to those who choose to learn about real math? Yes.
And what about prime numbers? There is sooo much that can be gained from spending more time on prime numbers and prime factorizations. Once you know have that, combine it with modular arithmetic and you're all ready for some basic number and group theory...
I think one of the biggest problems is that soooo many people just get it ingrained into their heads that math is boring or not fun before they even start, based on how adults around them talk about it. I firmly believe that if we could end all nay-speaking of math, more people would enjoy it and actually excel! Unfortunately, that will never happen, so I've come to accept the idea of proving to brainwashed kids that math can be, no, is fun and exciting and creative. I know there are many fun math activities that people have done to get kids excited about math, and it worked!!
I'm trying to build a repertoire of such activities. So please all, rack your brains for all those fun math things you did growing up and share them here :) Think macaroni and cheese colored blocks, think abacus, think making shapes out of paper, think clever math puzzles. What did you enjoy about math?