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Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 4 months ago

Metaphors are a good way of representing some of the complexity of the experiences of a complex world. Explore this Metaphor.org website if you want to think more about the power of metaphor - and story

Steve Rowett got us started using the idea of watching football as a metaphor for educational experience. 


"I likened education to a football match - with lots of ways to experience it: - you can watch it live with the atmosphere and the roar of the crowd - people build communities in their homes around the TV (and possibly a few beers too) - the highlights show a few clips, but not just any old clips, they've been carefully edited to tell the story - the newspapers the next day have some commentary on the game, but lots of analysis, set in the context of other results etc. What I came to was that the value was in the mix - people will mix and match different media to suit their situation. And also the value of the media in telling the appropriate story, depending on the medium and the context. I claimed education was the same. "



I found this metaphor resonated strongly with my current work here at Surrey, where I'm dealing with 'football spectator' sized classes. I am a fan of supplying information and knowledge (HE level at the moment but it applies elsewhere) through a variety of different media and communication channels and feel that I can use this metaphor to explain why it's necessary for effective learning for large audiences!   


It also reminds me of conversation with a student who hadn't been turning up to lecture sessions but was fan of what I was putting on our VLE. He commented that the only improvement he would like would be an addtion to the powerpoint slides......i.e. a video of me presenting the lecture/information session.

I laughed at the time...and said he should just attend the lectures , but perhaps the metaphor would suggest he was someone who wanted to watch the match later or just wanted the edited highlights.    


Thanks Steve....as always...you inspire. Lindy 



I wonder exactly what we mean by a "metaphor for education"? I can see the value of this metaphor for highlighting different modes of discourse, but, like all metaphors, there is a real risk of overextension. Many of my students seem to believe that they can behave like football fans (of various kinds), "learn" about football and then get taken on by AC Milan as a player! This view is supported by the numerous books in the shops withhave titles like "Learn xxx in 30 hours" (the edited highlights) - scan the computing shelves in any major book store if you have never done so - it is quite an eye opener.


One of the limitations of this metaphor is that it does not really seem to allow immersion - you can't (as an observer of football in any mode) really get involved in the game (at least, you run the risk of being arrested and thrown out ofg the ground if you try!!).


One metaphor I am playing with at the moment is that of building a new property. You seem to spend lots of time planning, thinking etc, then ages tearing down what is already there and carting it away, discover hidden pipes in the process, put in many things that will never be seen (or even appreciated by the final occupants), build cranes and other devices to support the learning (often at greatcost and knowing they will be removed before the final building is complete), change the plans as the building develops, etc etc etc. This has arisen from a real frustration with students who are so focused on "what is useful when I get a job" that they have lost sight of the "what is useful to help me learn".


Interesting discussion






I seem to have unwittingly sparked a discussion (thanks to Lindy!) - but I agree, exploring some metaphors for education seems like fun!


What struck me about the football one was the role of communities and identify - people rarely watch football on their own, and learning is rarely a solo process. So in both, we build planned and ad-hoc communities to support the process.


An observation that I hadn't made at the time is that perhaps Universities are quite like football teams. One eye on the value of sport for its own sake, one perhaps larger eye on their budgets and positions in the league tables.


I like the building metaphor - especially the idea of the scaffolding, vital to the building process but unseen or removed from the final product.  I fear that your frustration is set to continue - with the complexity of students' lives these days (working, caring, course overassessment) I am continually amazed that many find the time and motivation to learn at all.


Any more metaphors? 8-)





Steve, I am running a wiki on KM-etaphors, for a conference in Cape Town in October (2007) which might be of interest.




I deliberately avoided league tables and budgets, but you are absolutely right!! Of course, the coaching aspects of sport (and indeed sports psychology) are also useful aspects of the metaphor - this raises the issue of learning from our "failures" and the ways the we have institutionalised the fear of failure.


I wonder if there are any specific sports that we see as "like" our disciplines?



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