Saturday, April 6, 2013

Metaphors and Learning

Do metaphors aid understanding or hinder it? Well, metaphorically speaking, they can be a double-edged sword.

The point of a metaphor is to help us see things more clearly. For example, the phrase “time slips through our hands like sand” helps us connect something intangible and abstract, such as time, to a physical experience, such as sand trickling through our fingers.

Further, metaphors offer novel insights; they help generate creative thoughts.

On the flip side, metaphors can be traps if we end up taking them too literally; that is, if we read too much into the supposed likeness.

Sometimes they can also hide the parts of a phenomenon that don't fit into the ruling metaphor.

Thus metaphors can mislead us in two ways - by revealing what is not real or by hiding what is real.