Quotations: About Maps, Puzzles, Thinking, Creativity and Objectivity

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Covering the Landscape Metaphor

Teachers unconsciously describe their work in a variety of metaphors - gardening, weaving, coaching, sculpting or filling empty containers. Common educational metaphors conceptualize knowledge as a landscape to be "covered" with the goal of "picking up" concepts - knowledge objects -along the way. Each metaphor unconsciously creates a frame in which some behaviors and perceptions are enabled and others are inhibited.

Judy Yero: How Teacher Thinking Shapes Education


My Classroom is a Beehive. Do you get the picture?     The metaphor Time is a resource (money) drives much of what teachers do and don't do in teaching. Time is something that people can spend or waste, wisely invest in productive activities or squander in questionable pursuits. Thus, time becomes the cost of exploring how a knowledge object might be used.

 Judy Yero © 2002 Teaching in Mind

When Time Runs Out...

"...time is not a resource that teachers own. The traditional content of a given course or school year allots specific amounts of time to accomplish certain tasks, The teachers must budget this scarce resource, spending only within the limits of what is allotted. Wasting time on material that isn't part of the assigned curriculum means that they will have run out before they have "covered" all the material. Heaven forbid that time runs out before the test and the class hasn't covered everything! Time is a resource so accepted in Western thinking that most people are unaware that it is a metaphor, one that is not shared by some other cultures."

 Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors We Live By,© 1980


   Metaphors in Teacher Talk


"My classroom is a zoo!" "I try to weave all of the concepts together". "These kids are really blossoming". "He's one of my top students." "We're always falling behind." "Metaphors may create realities for us, especially social realities. A metaphor may thus be a guide for future action. Such actions will, of course, fit the metaphor. This will in turn, reinforce the power of the metaphor to make experience coherent. In this sense metaphors can be self-fulfilling prophesies."

Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors We Live By,© 1980

Metaphors Help us Make Sense of Our Experience

Metaphors give us a way to categorize and make sense of our experience. Of course, this is based on the notion that we have to quantify things in their discrete entities in order to understand them. Admittedly, though, when we think and act in terms of metaphor, we are highlighting certain aspects of experience and obscuring others".

Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors We Live By,© 1980

Mark L. Johnson

It's what Teachers Think, and Act and Do...


...at the level of the classroom that ultimately shapes, the kind of learning that young people get. Carl Jung once said, "Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk". If teachers don't know who they are - if they are unaware of their beliefs, values and metaphors about learning, teaching and the nature of knowledge itself - then they are also unaware of what they are teaching by reason of those unconscious processes.

Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan: What's worth Fighting For in Your School © 1992

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