Metaphors of Learning and Pedagogy: Consequences for Theory and Practice
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
Dr Maddalena Taras
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education and Society, University of Sunderland