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Eight Metaphors for Education

by Christopher Ormell
Educational Reseach ()
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This essay was written as a response to the question 'What stays the same in education?'. Eight robust metaphors are developed to represent the invariant features of education, the first four of which liken it to the planning, preparation, consumption and digestion of 'mental meals', while the second four relate to the improved vision gained by the learner, first in general, and then as achieved by climbing a mountain, seeing the gradually improving view on the way up and, finally, seeing the view from the top. In the last paragraph is singled out the fashionable use of 'skill' terminology in education as being unrealistic in relation to the cognitive challenges facing learners in the current microchip-rich society. What learners need is not, in the last analysis, finite bundles of blinkered competence properly describable as 'skills', but the vision to see what is appropriate in a given situation. They especially need the vision to see which tiny drop of an almost infinite ocean of electronically accessible knowledge is needed to solve a given problem. (Ormell, Christopher)

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