Reflecting on the Use of Metaphor: Two Professors' Processes of Discovery

Jan. 20, 2009

Source: The Teacher Educator, Volume 44, Issue 1. January 2009. pages 56 - 69.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The paper summarizes the literature concerning the use of visual and textual metaphors.
It also describes outcomes of a project designed to help teacher education candidates begin integrating their personal beliefs about teaching with their growing professional knowledge and emergent practice. 

The authors required students to reflect on their metaphor assignments using Valli's (1997) construct of reflection. Student reflections over their metaphors for teaching collected across 2 years served as the data for this article. Participating students in courses in undergraduate language arts methods (n = 27) and two sections of undergraduate science methods (n = 45) engaged in metaphor exercises over two semesters. In addition, students in five sections of a MAT introductory course (n = 125) engaged in similar activities for one semester.

By using metaphors, teacher educators have the opportunity to help candidates solidify convictions and meanings and uncover “tacit or unarticulated” beliefs (Clandinin & Connelly, 1995, p. 6) that can lead to frame conflict (Reddy, 1993), that is, dueling metaphors. For example, there is a frame conflict in the conception of student value in the metaphors of teacher-as-police-officer and teacher-as-gardener. In one metaphor, students are perceived as deficit “others” who must be carefully watched by authorities; in the gardening metaphor, student potential is recognized as “more than” what can be seen on the surface. This article demonstrates how one university faculty explores textual and visual metaphor to encourage discourse among the candidates, other peers, and professors in a school of education. This extended dialogue gives candidates the opportunity to “compare their own characterizations to those of their peers, and depending on the responses of others, either maintain their own construals or bring theirs in line with those of the others” (Petrie & Oshlag, 1993, p. 602). This is the educative process of frame restructuring. As an added benefit of this project, the authors have found that using an artistic format combined with a written explanation of their work requires candidates to become more thoughtful, reflective practitioners.

Clandinin, D. J. and Connelly, F. M. (2000). Narrative inquiry: Experience and story in qualitative research. Jossey-Bass , San Francisco..

Petrie, H. and Oshlag, R. Ortony, A. (ed) (1993) Metaphor and learning.. Metaphor and thought pp. 579-609. 2nd ed., Cambridge University Press , Cambridge, England.

Reddy, M. Ortony, A. (ed) (1993) The conduit metaphor: A case of frame conflict in our language about language. Metaphor and thought. pp. 164-201. 2nd ed., Cambridge University Press , Cambridge, England.


Updated: Mar. 12, 2009