The Mystery of Metaphors - Higher Education Academy

The Mystery of Metaphors A Paper in the Use of Metaphors in Teaching Sociology Lewis Simpson

About Me •

PhD student at the University of Leeds in Sociology

Heavily influenced by Bauman’s sociology

University Centre Grimsby Sociology

Leeds Beckett University – Criminology

“the essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another”. Lakoff and Johnson (1980; 5)

“…metaphors are ways with which to navigate in and organise a complex and changing world of immense possibility. Is this perhaps the reason why some sociologists … find metaphors so intriguing to work with?” Hviid Jacobsen in Davis (2013:19)

Rationale •

Common practice within the discipline of sociology

Students need to discuss complex language of social science without past knowledge

Double hermeneutic for students (Giddens, 1982)

First task for any student is to do battle with the most commonly used term ‘society’

But there are more to grasp!


Reflexive Modernity

Related Theories •

Metaphors as a method of cognitive mapping (Trepagnier, 2002), allowing the learning of ‘radically new knowledge (Petrie, 1979)

Two types associated with education (Sfard, 1998) •

Acquisition metaphors - knowledge as commodity, linked to behaviourism (Olafson & Schraw, 2006)

Participatory metaphors - self-reflection and participation - links to ‘community of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991) and constructivism (Vygotsky, 1978)

An Example

What Student Thought •

Students were asked to complete a small questionnaire

Mixed methods applied

Purposeful use of Appreciate Inquiry (Michael, 2006)

43 students responded

Statistical Findings Are metaphors Helpful?

• • •

Always = 32.6% Often = 58.1% Sometimes = 7% Rarely = 2.3%

Spontaneous or Planned?

• •

Planned = 7% Spontaneous = 76.7 Mixed = 16.3%

Qualitative Findings Most Recognisable?


Table to explain social theories

“Because it was funny and the class was involved”

Cultures as ponds and subcultures as fish

Garden as a form of modernity

“Because it was spontaneous and fun and something that can be redelivered in other classes”

“Because it was visual and funny”

Family Guy

Fried egg as capitalist society

“Because it was a group discussion and everyone took part”

The shopping trolley of life

“Because we did a task on it and this explained if further”

Opening Up the Debate •

Where should the construction of metaphors be in the class room; teacher or student?

Metaphors can both be applied in a spontaneous way and planned way; with students still achieving a similar experience

Humour and movement; increases experience and rememberability - involves all students

How to apply metaphors to teaching to give students the greatest experience and bigger impact on learning

Conclusions •

Metaphors help to ‘break-down’ the barriers caused by academic language

Focus needs to be shifted from look at metaphors as a teaching tool to a student experience

Creative Changes to my Practice •

Experimenting with spontaneous student metaphors

Applying more interactivity to build seminars and activities

Bibliography •Davis,

M. (2013) Liquid Sociology: Metaphors in Zygmunt Bauman’s Analysis of Modernity. Surrey: Ashgate. •Giddens, A. (1982) Profiles and Critiques in Social Theory. London: Macmillan. •Hviid Jacobsen, M. and Marshman, S. (2008) ‘Bauman’s Metaphors: the Poetic Imagination in Sociology’. In Current Sociology, Vol. 56, No. 5, pp. 798-818. •Lakoff, G. and Johnson, M. (1980) Metaphors we Live By. London: University of Chicago Press. •Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. •Michael, S. (2006) ‘The Promise of Appreciative Inquiry as an Interview Tool for Field Research’ in Development In Practice. 15:2, 222-230, DOI: 10.1080/09614520500042094 •Mouraz, A., Vale Pereira, A. and Monteiro, R. (2013) ‘The Use of Metaphors in the Process of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education’ in International Online Journal of Education Science, ISSN: 1309-2707. •Olafson, L. and Schraw, G. (2006) ‘Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices Within and Across Domains’. In International Journal of Education, Vol. 45, pp. 71-84. •Petrie, H. (1979) ‘Metaphors and Learning’. In Metaphor and Thought, pp. 438-461. •Sfard, A. (1998) ‘On Two Metaphors for Learning and the Dangers of Choosing Just One’. In Educational Researcher, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 4-13. •Trepagnier, B. (2002) ‘Mapping Sociological Concepts’. In Teaching Sociology, Vol. 30, No.1, pp 108-119. •Vygotsky, L. (1978) Mind and Society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.


The Mystery of Metaphors - Higher Education Academy

The Mystery of Metaphors A Paper in the Use of Metaphors in Teaching Sociology Lewis Simpson About Me • PhD student at the University of Leeds in S...

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