Actually, it’s not like that at all… (failed metaphor)

Here in the Twin Cities, we follow the fortunes of Delta Airlines rather closely ever since they bought our hometown airline, Northwest.

This past week, we learned that frequent fliers on Delta were being offered higher fares than anonymous searchers on Delta’s website.

The piece in the Star Tribune ended with this quote from airline industry consultant Robert Mann.

This would be the equivalent of the soft drink machine that dispenses $5 cold drinks on a sweltering hot, sunny day and $1 drinks on a cold, dreary day.

Nice. But it’s not like that at all. The right airline analog for this practice would be if Delta charged everyone more for flights at peak travel times. I believe this latter practice is widely known and accepted as fair.

Here’s the right vending machine analogy.

This would be the equivalent of the soft drink machine that dispenses $5 cold drinks to people who buy from the machine every day and $1 drinks to those who only occasionally buy soft drinks.

Metaphors matter. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t use them. But we use them all the time in teaching. So let’s think them through carefully.

If an equation is like a balance, let’s encourage kids to ask, How is it like a balance? and just as importantly, How is it not like a balance?

 

 

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