Winter Teaching Metaphors
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At the February 23, 2009 teachingcommons Dam House event we will be considering metaphors and teaching experiences (for more information on the event itself go here: http://www.shef.ac.uk/teachingcommons/damhouse/winter1.html). Why? What use is this? Very briefly, the theory behind this is that - although often unarticulated, unrecognised and even rejected as a notion - metaphors, similes and analogies are ways that we as humans makes sense of the world (and conversely one of the things that make us human). Not surprisingly, the metaphors we choose are powerful. What metpahors do you use to make sense of the world around you?
And yes, we are throwing around three different terms. What is the difference between them (simile, metaphor and analogy)? Here is a quick definition/comparison: http://ask.yahoo.com/20030623.html.
For example, it has been snowing a lot this week and for many, this has created chaos just as teaching has started up again. For some, the snowstorm or maelstrom might be an appropriate way to think about the upheaval that starting the semester brings. To use a simile, starting teaching - like a snowstorm - can at first be a refreshing change but also one that significantly changes the way your world looks. Then, everything might get briefly more difficult (slushy) and then as the snow melts away and things go back to "normal" and order is restored and the snowstorm only a memory.
Using this kind of metaphor may be useful and reflecting on this may help you realise that the beginning of semester takes a period of adjustment to switch in between the roles and periods of academic life. Perhaps though this seems too forced.
Others speak of students as customers. What type of attitude towards learning does this engender? What role then are staff placed in? What "space" is the University if you extend this metaphor?
Some people do not think they use metaphors. However, once they reflect on the language they use, find that there are often traces of mechanistic (tools, fixing, building) or marketing (customer, manager, selling) models in their assumptions about their relationships and the world they live in. Do you? If you don't, what about the people around you? Knowing what expectations people have (and metaphors certainly help create some of these), help predict and perhaps create better teaching experiences.
Articles on metaphor and teaching
In un-annotated list of no particular order, here are a series of articles to look at for further information on teaching and metaphors:
Performing Engineering: How the Performance Metaphor for Engineering Can Transform Communications Learning and Teaching http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/ielx5/4417794/4417795/04417844.pdf?arnumber=4417844
Evolution as a Metaphor for Design in Bioengineering Programs http://www.cs.cornell.edu/Conferences/ASEE2006/ASEE%20Papers/Session%203/Evolution%20as%20a%20Metaphor%20for%20Design%20in%20Bioengineering%20Programs-%20Vincent%20et%20al.pdf
The Construction and Use of a Metaphor for Science Teaching http://www.springerlink.com/content/67q5830028wx8w7w/fulltext.pdf
Metaphors in Science and Art: Enhancing Human Awareness and Perception http://ejse.southwestern.edu/volumes/v11n1/articles/art01_ashkenazi.pdf
Teaching as Stand-up comedy and other metaphors http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/00003086.htm
Exploring difference through metaphor: http://surveys.canterbury.ac.nz/herdsa03/pdfsnon/N1215.pdf
A Classification System for Metaphors about Teaching http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-2495398/A-classification-system-for-metaphors.html
Metaphors for University teaching http://www.celt.mmu.ac.uk/ltia/issue10/mcshane.shtml
Metaphor and Reflective Teaching http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/download/nwp_file/649/Metaphor.pdf?x-r=pcfile_d
Review of Metaphors of the Mind http://www.cleanlanguage.co.uk/review-Yero.html
Metaphors in Education: http://www.teachersmind.com/metaphors1.htm
Newsletter with articles on metaphor: http://www.teachersmind.com/pdfdirectory/March2003.pdf
Winter Event Slideshow
Below is a rough version of a slide show we will be using at the event to help stimulate your thinking and use of metaphors.... Media:WinterEventTeachingMetaphorImages.pps