Metaphor and meaning

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Information about Metaphor and meaning

Published on May 9, 2014

Author: labawi


Metaphor: Powerful imagery bringing learning and teaching to life Presenters: Debbie Geoghegan Dr Lindy Abawi Leadership Research International

Metaphors in education What do you consider to be an effective metaphor that reflects your view about learning and learners or teaching and teachers?

Metaphor in theory “Most contemporary metaphor theorists hold that the typical function of metaphor, simile, and related figures of speech is to map correspondences” across concepts or domains (Steen, 2008, p. 213). Giddens (1976) sees in metaphor the power to shift paradigms by altering familiar premises through metaphorical allusion to the old, enabling comprehension of new frames of meaning which consequently sees one of metaphor’s powers as the ability to bridge time and space (Carr, 2006). Chia (1996) noted the word metaphor is derived from the Greek word ‘metaphorikos’ meaning transportation, lending further insight into metaphor’s inherent ability to connect.

The use of metaphor in pre-service education

The Research • 1. What metaphors do prospective teachers use to describe the concept of “teacher”? • 2. What conceptual themes can be derived from these metaphorical images?

A Powerful Tool • Develop philosophy • Challenge beliefs • Reveal pedagogical content knowledge • Develop identity as teacher • Reform or Refine Practice • Reflective Practice

From Vision to Voice Metaphors can help in the transition from vision to voice (Stokes, 1994).

Teaching is a wave forming in the deep then journeying to set its own mark upon the golden shore. Along the way the currents support and direct, the winds hover and guide and other waves bond and strengthen till at last the wave peaks and caresses the shore.

Sunflowers grow with the bright light of the sun. They also need some shelter from the sun but not too much. Sunflowers need space to grow and thrive but at times they need help, such as staking to keep them straight and tall, plus shielding from the cold. Sunflowers can bloom when they have good compost, plenty of space to grow, well timed planting, and a generous supply of water. Although sunflowers like a good quantity of water, if they are watered in the wind they can tend to fall over with the extra weight of the water. Interfering with sunflowers when they are planted can make them weak and they tend not to thrive. To keep sunflowers happy, healthy and strong year after year; nurturing and caring treatment is essential. Although we make sure not to cut off the heads of sunflowers, to maintain the sunflowers we must prune dead leaves and keep the beds weed free. Sunflowers do not like any chemicals or pesticides. So to keep our sunflowers remaining happy, healthy and strong; consistent, fair, thoughtful and considerate tending of them is important.

Teaching is a piece of artwork. Each artwork representing the learner has a different individual story which is shaped by elements around them. The beginning of the artwork is the start of the child’s life. As people, surroundings and events shape the child, the artwork develops. When the child reaches school these prior elements within the artwork will assist the teacher. As they show the teacher where the child has come from, elements that have shaped the child as well as prior knowledge and learning. As teachers it is our responsibility to recognise this prior knowledge and learning and more importantly the uniqueness of each child. This recognition will enhance, develop and shape as well as add to the artwork.

A gardener facilitates plants to grow, it is not within the gardener’s power to make them grow, it is the flowers themselves that do the growing. With the guidance, care and nurturing of the gardener the flowers will blossom. As teachers we cannot force our students to learn, but like flowers who naturally want to grow, students naturally want to learn. It is our responsibility as teachers to empower students to grow and blossom.

Teaching is a Jazz Band This teaching metaphor accurately represents my current principles of practice as I believe each child, like a jazz musician, is a unique and capable human being. Jazz musicians play engaging music that challenges and speaks to them. Just like musicians children take part in learning when it is authentic and important to them. Learning is like playing jazz as it is a social, collaborative experience where people learn with and from their peers. Genuine feedback and reflection will improve a jazz performance just as these elements will improve a child’s performance. I feel teaching and learning in the 21st century is like playing jazz. It is interactive and collaborative, done in small and big groups. There is sheet music that guides the teaching, however, it is a living process, it is a jazz band. (Navarro, 2010)

“An institution is like a tune; it is not constituted by individual sounds but by the relations between them” (Drucker, 1946, p. 26).

The use of organisational metaphor Lakoff and Johnston (1980) state “we define our reality in terms of metaphors and then proceed to act on the basis of the metaphors. We draw inferences, set goals, make commitments, and execute plans, all on the basis of how we in part structure our experience, consciously and unconsciously, by means of metaphor” (p. 158). However, “metaphor is inherently paradoxical. It can create powerful insights that also become distortions, as the way of seeing created through a metaphor becomes a way of not seeing” (Morgan, 1980, p. 5) and Strenski (1989) agrees, suggesting that “metaphors have consequences. They reflect and shape our attitudes and, in turn, determine our behaviour” (p.137). Consider Morgan’s metaphors of an organisation as a goal-seeking machine with interchangeable parts compared to that of a biological organism that continually adapts to change.

IDEAS and ideas... IDEAS ideas Innovative Designs for Enhancing Achievements in Schools initiating discovering envisioning actioning sustaining ...are embedded in a strong background of organisational theory: • Newmann and Associates (1996) on building organisational capacity in schools to achieve sustainable improvement • Senge’s work on the building of the learning organisations (1995) • Cuttance and Associates (2001) and the Innovation and Best Practice Project

The use of metaphor in IDEAS school contexts IDEAS is a process led by the Leadership Research International group at the University of Southern Queensland. It takes schools on a journey of self-discovery and collegial collaboration which results in two significant artefacts which in many instances are strongly metaphorical by nature: A school vision and a schoolwide pedagogical framework (SWP)

A metaphorical school vision

Currimundi: Riding the waves to success  Healthy body, healthy mind  Little waves, big waves  Finding your own balance  Keeping our world beautiful  There’s another wave coming!

A metaphorical schoolwide pedagogical framework (SWP)

... A schoolwide pedagogical framework (SWP) A schoolwide pedagogy (SWP) is a school’s expression of a set of agreed pedagogical principles that will enable the professional community of the school to create learning environments for enhancement of the school’s overall outcomes. It is built upon shared personal pedagogies and grounded within a school’s vision which reflects the essence of its community.

Sunny Fields State School

A metaphor of growth and learning

Sunny Fields State School Our school provides a wonderful family friendly atmosphere where every child is recognised and treated as an individual. Enrolment … is your child’s 'growth to a beautiful future' and you can be reassured that you have made a ‘bloomin’ fine choice’ for your child’s education…there is a “valley of opportunities’" whether in the classroom, the sporting field or in an artistic endeavour for your child…Students learn in an environment that is firmly grounded in community values… now known as B.U.D.S. (School website)

Fairview Heights State School

Forrester Hill State School Our Jacaranda Tree is the metaphor for the sense of purpose we feel …as we develop a root system embedded strongly in values education, a solid trunk built on celebrating difference in learning styles, cultures and backgrounds and producing flowers, seeds and leaves representing achievements for all to see in social skills displayed and through academic and cultural achievements…The staff, students and parents … are proud of our wonderful school and visitors are always welcome. (School website)

I love the visual – that to me is a huge thing. I need the visual, I am a visual person, I love that as I can see that and it is there as something that sits in my head allowing me to be a part of it all. The connections are made at all times and I think that means that people truly believe in the importance of these connections. If I had come in and I couldn’t see it all around me, then no it would not mean anything to me. I think I would have thought that this is something that is done at this school, not that this is something that is a part of this school. Its strength did not exclude me – in fact the opposite – I felt so much a part of it all very quickly. A New Teacher’s Perspective

Bringing the metaphor to life within literacy teaching practice

In conclusion • Metaphor linked to a school’s vision for the future is a powerful means of creating relational, cognitive and pedagogical connections. A schoolwide pedagogical framework with aligned strong metaphorical links strengthens cognitive and cultural connectedness across a whole school community (Abawi, 2012) • Metaphor assists teaching practitioners at all stages in their career to reflect deeply on their current practice in light of their espoused beliefs.

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