Other person: What do you do?
Me: I teach math. :-)
Other person (after involuntarily jumping backwards 2 feet): UGH! I've always HATED math!
Me: Well, if it makes you feel any better, let me assure you you are not alone. Most people respond to me that way.
Other person: You know, I do remember a problem my teacher showed me in 3rd grade, though, it was about getting stuff across a river, a fox, a goose and some grain, I think. I've always wanted to know how to do that problem. Can you help me with it?
Me: Well, let's think it through . . .
Fun and joyful conversation about mathematics continues at length from here.
There should be more opportunity IN the math classroom for fun and joyful conversations about mathematics, which will help alleviate individual anxiety and perhaps benefit our nation as more students might decide they like math and want to pursue it!