The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

A Construction for the Transmission of Growth: On Metaphors in Education

Pål Anders Opdal, UiT – The Arctic University of Norway / The Norwegian Academy of Music (Norway)


Metaphors are ubiquitous in education. In this paper an attempt is made to explore two questions that are thus pertinent: Why – and is this an unhappy state of affairs? Using the interaction-view of metaphor as analytical frame (Black 1954/55), a possible mechanism behind metaphor-generation in education is identified. According to the interaction view, metaphors function by a mechanism of inclusion/exclusion, i.e. by admitting certain associations whilst rejecting others. This mechanism, the paper argues, is vital in accounting for the prevalence of metaphor within the educational field. Three educational metaphors are then analyzed: construction, transmission, and growth, and an attempt is thereby made not only to demonstrate said mechanism, but also to consider some of the consequences that follow. Especially one result of the paper is notable: From the vantage point of the interaction view, conceptual formation in education presents itself in a new light.



Metaphors, constructivism, growth, education, educational science




Black, M. (1954): “Metaphor”. In Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Vol. 55 (1954), pp. 273-294 

Black, M. (1977): “More about metaphor”. In Dialectica, Vol. 31, No. 3-4, pp. 431-457  

Searle, J. (1993): “Metaphor”. In Ortony, A. (1993) (ed.): Metaphor and Thought, Cambridge: CUP, pp- 83-111 

Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (2003): Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press 


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