Metaphors of Learning and Pedagogy: Consequences for Theory and Practice

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The power of metaphors to create theories and links in our understanding has been well documented. Metaphor, in addition to being creative and productive, can also be dangerous and damaging. Dangerous when a partial idea becomes established as literal and fact in the collective consciousness and the flexible aspects of the metaphors which are subject to personal interpretation are forgotten or unrecognised. Damaging when the consequences of the idea are misunderstood, unacknowledged and counter to our ideals, often without our being aware of them. More importantly, when both dangers and damaging aspects are part of the hegemonic framework which is used to control our behaviour and thoughts and denigrate our professional expertise and independence.
Examining current metaphors in use reveals a darker side to the curriculum and pedagogic theories which dominate and thus influence our practice. Since language, particularly metaphor, is rarely neutral, social, political and educational positions are often an integral part of the concepts of terminologies which are in daily use. Being aware of these metaphors, the ideologies and the consequences which ensue for theory and practice is a necessary starting point for reflecting on and understanding our contextual constraints.
This is of international relevance because, despite this study of metaphor being rooted in the English language, research permeation is worldwide and it is important to understand the constraints to which the Anglophone world is subject.


Keywords: Metaphor, Theory, Practice, Curriculum, Pedagogy
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Maddalena Taras

Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education and Society, University of Sunderland
Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, UK

My research is in educational assessment. Initially, I focused on learner autonomy and more specifically the use of student self-assessment in higher education. Subsequently, while placing my original form of student self-assessment within a clear theoretical framework, I discovered that assessment in general and summative and formative assessment frameworks in particular, were not only misrepresented theoretically, but they also not part of a coherent framework of assessment. Therefore, my recent work has focused on theoretical aspects of assessment and critiquing current frameworks by examining for example, the metaphors of assessment. This is relevant to and encompasses all sectors of education.

Ref: L09P0956