I really like Dan Meyer’s metaphor of presenting maths as the solution (aspirin) to a problem (headache), simply because it reminds me that I should start a lesson by making clear in some way what the problem is, before diving in to introducing new ideas.
I like it so much I was talking to some (mostly non-teaching) friends about it the other day. It went a little like this:
Luke: …isn’t that a great metaphor?
Alice: It sounds a bit negative.
Becky: It sounds as if you’re saying that maths is a headache.
Luke: no, no, no…
Alex: Yes, but I don’t want to have to take Aspirin.
Alice: I never take Aspirin anyway, even if I do have a headache. I think that’s more of an American thing?
Luke: Have you got a better version?
Alex: You want to undertake a journey but there is a river in the way. Maths is the bridge you need to cross the river.
So, I’m sticking with Headaches and Aspirin for now… anyone have a better suggestion?!