prospective teachers' metaphorical conceptualizations of learner

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    Ahmet Saban*

    ity, M

    Phenomenological research

    e mntsatioatedcia, aning

    inguistMetapintainsh a matheoryaphorst as a ld and b

    Metaphor involves understanding and experiencing one kindof thing in terms of another (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, p. 5).According to MacCormac (1990, p. 9), To describe the unknown,wemust resort to concepts that we know and understand, and thatis the essence of a metaphor an unusual juxtaposition of thefamiliar with the unfamiliar. Thus, metaphor employs a cross-

    novel, or highly speculative (Yob, 2003, p. 134). Once expressed,however, metaphors also project a form of argument or a genuinepreference for something over another. As Kliebard pointed outabout three decades ago:

    To see the school as if it were a factory and the curriculum asa means of production is not merely to make an observation;that metaphor has imbedded in it an element of persuasion, andone who is not critically aware of the power of metaphor caneasily become its victim. (Kliebard, 1982, p. 15)

    * Tel.: 90 332 3238220; fax: 90 332 3238225.

    Contents lists availab

    Teaching and Tea


    Teaching and Teacher Education 26 (2010) 290305E-mail address: thinking about something in light of another. The metaphoricalexpression of A student is like a white page, for instance, refersnot just to what students are like, but indeed to what it is like to bea learner.

    1.1. The cognitive function of metaphor

    (Quale, 2002, p. 447)

    It is suggested that metaphors do not prove or demonstrateanything new by themselves, but enable us to see in a new lightwhat we are doing or experiencing. Using a metaphor for teaching,for example, is not a way of doing teaching; it is rather a way oftalking about teaching. Thus, a metaphor is employed when onewants to explore and understand something esoteric, abstract,1. Introduction and purpose

    Postulated by George Lakoff (a lphilosopher) in their seminal book ofthe cognitive theory of metaphor mathink, experience and do is very mucFrom the standpoint of the cognitivegurative or decorative device, mettions, thoughts, and actions. They acthrough which a subject is (re)viewe0742-051X/$ see front matter 2009 Elsevier Ltd.doi:10.1016/j.tate.2009.03.017) and Mark Johnson (ahors We Live By in 1980,that most of what wetter of metaphor (p. 3)., far from being a merestructure our percep-

    ens, a screen, or a lterecome a mental model

    domain mapping in the conceptual system. To put it in Qualeswords:

    It is a descriptive analogy, serving to illuminate whateverphenomenon A is being considered, by drawing lines of asso-ciation to some other phenomenon B that we feel we alreadyunderstand. The qualication already understand is essentialhere: the metaphor is asymmetric, in the sense that in thecontext of explaining A, the referent phenomenon B is assumedto be understood! Thus, some (not all) characteristics of B areused to explain . some corresponding characteristics of A.TurkeyDepartment of Primary Teaching, Ahmet Kelesoglu Faculty of Education, Selcuk Univers

    a r t i c l e i n f o

    Article history:Received 6 September 2008Received in revised form28 January 2009Accepted 24 March 2009

    Keywords:Prospective teachersMetaphorical images of learnerDifferences based on gender, programmetype, and teacher trainee status

    a b s t r a c t

    This study investigated thdescribe learners. Participaindicate their conceptualizAltogether 98 well-articuldeveloped. Signicant assoand status in programmeprospective teachers thinkdiscussed.Prospective teachers metaphorical conc

    journal homepage: wwwAll rights reserved.tualizations of learner

    eram, Konya 42090, Turkey

    etaphorical images that prospective teachers in Turkey formulated to(N 2847) completed the prompt A student is like . because . tons of learner. Data were analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively.metaphorical images were identied and 12 conceptual themes were

    tions were detected between teacher trainees gender, programme typed the 12 conceptual themes. Metaphors provided a cognitive lens intoand cognition. Implications for teacher education and further research are

    2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    le at ScienceDirect

    cher Education

    lsevier .com/locate/ tate

  • er E1.2. The practical value of metaphor

    Lakoff and Johnsons (1980) theoretical approach tometaphor ascognition posits a dialectic relationship between the social and thecognitive, whereby the mind and, by extension, the metaphoricalconceptualizations that mediate mental processes are seen as bothproducts and determinants of the social environment (Guerrero &Villamil, 2002, p. 96). This makes metaphor a powerful cognitivetool for educators in search of meaning and sense of self. In Blackand Halliwells (2000) study of 14 Australian pre-school teachers,for example, one participant explained her self-image of beinga pre-school teacher with the erosion metaphor as follows:

    Sometimes I feel like an island. Years come and children come tovisit awhile, have the fun they can, and learnwhat they can thenthey leave again like tourists. The island (me) is providing asmuch for them as possible while they are there. Part of theisland is being eroded by wind, ocean etc. like how I feel whenI cannot do much for a particular child Im being worn out. Ofcourse the other side of the island has a resort where people arehaving a great time and are completely unaware of how theother side of the island is being worn away. Even though theisland has solid foundations and is not going anywhere despitecyclones and bad weather something must be done about theeroding section or in time it will all wear away (Black & Halli-well, 2000, p. 108).

    Through the erosion metaphor, thus, this teacher developedan awareness of the demands and pressures of her work in child-care, and of her need to take some erosion protection measures.The metaphor also helped her identify her major dilemmaregarding teaching pre-school children (i.e., How to cope with thepressures of teaching pre-school children while, at the same time,trying to meet their individual needs and interests?) and made herexamine how her current emotions and actions affected herteaching in action. In short, as was the case for this pre-schoolteacher, metaphor construction can be a liberating experience foreducators by helping them understand the professional circum-stances that they are currently involved in.

    1.3. Metaphors of teaching and learning

    Within the educational context, metaphors play an importantrole in gaining insight into school peoples thinking and reasoningabout teaching and learning. Inbar (1996), for example, collectedabout 7042metaphorical images provided by 409 students and 254educators in Israel and found that about 18% of educators and 7% ofstudents imagined learners as empty receptacles (e.g., cup).Again, about 10% of educators and 3% of students metaphorsinvolved images of learners as clay (e.g., dough). Perhaps a morecritical nding of the study was that about 33% of students and 8%of educators conceptualized learners as captive beings (e.g.,slave).

    Similarly, Bozlk (2002) asked 49 freshmen enrolled in a generaleducation cluster course at a mid-western university in the UnitedStates to create metaphors for themselves as learners at four pointsduring an academic year (the rst day of class, at mid-term, the lastday of class, and the following semester). As a result of this exercise,a total of 35 well-articulated metaphors were collected. Findingsindicated that most students tend to come to higher educationseeing themselves as passive learners, ready to soak up theteachers knowledge (e.g., sponge). They are also concerned withretaining their information once they acquire it (e.g., person withAlzheimers).

    Do prospective and experienced teachers view teaching and

    A. Saban / Teaching and Teachlearning differently? Martinez, Sauleda, and Huber (2001) analyzedthe metaphorical images of 50 experienced teachers and comparedthem with those of 38 education major seniors in Spain. Findingsrevealed that 57% of experienced teachers and 56% of prospectiveteachers shared traditional metaphors depicting teaching andlearning as transmission of knowledge. Moreover, about 38% ofexperienced teachers and 22% of preservice teachers expressedconstructivist metaphors. While only 5% of the metaphors ofexperienced teachers conceived learning as a social process, 22%of preservice teachers metaphors reected this conceptual theme.

    Do variations exist in prospective teachers thinking of teaching andlearning? Saban, Kocbeker, and Saban (2007) investigated 1142Turkish preservice teachers metaphorical images of teacher.Findings revealed that while prospective Primary teachers gener-ated more shaping-oriented (e.g., sculptor) metaphors, prospec-tive English teachers produced more facilitation-oriented (e.g.,compass) metaphors, and prospective Computer teachers providedmore transmission-oriented (e.g., public fountain) metaphors.Again, females appeared to be more counselling-oriented (e.g.,psychologist) than males who in turn provided more cooperation-oriented (e.g., tour guide) metaphors. Although no statisticallysignicant class level differences were detected, entry-levelparticipants appeared to be more growth-oriented (e.g.,gardener) than their exit-level peers, who in turn generated morefacilitation-oriented (e.g., lighthouse) metaphors.

    Do perceptions of prospective teachers change over the course ofteacher training? Leavy, McSorley, and Bote (2007) examined thechanges in 124 Irish and American rst-year preservice teachersbeliefs about teaching and learning by asking them to providemetaphors at the beginning and the end of the semester. Resultsshowed that 49% of teacher trainees initial metap


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