teaching metaphors

The Teacher as Lensmaker

When as a college sophomore I first encountered Benedict de Spinoza, I was fascinated by both his philosophy, which emphasizes intellectual freedom and pursuit of virtue, and the fact that by trade or profession he was a grinder of lenses.

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Education: The Fury of a Storm or the Music of a Drizzle

Two readings triggered my thinking about contrasting images for education. In Charles Dickens’ Hard Times, Mr. Thomas Gradgrind tells us that education is stuffing facts into the minds of students. The more, the better. The quicker, the better. In current terms he favors “information bombardment.”

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Teaching Swimming or Coaching Swimmers?

A question has been floating around in my head since I started teaching college students: are we supposed to act like swimming instructors or Olympic coaches? The analogy is not as odd as it might seem at first. Don’t we talk about whether students “sink

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A Garden, Not a Leaky Pipeline

In recent years, student dropout rates in STEM programs have received a lot of attention. The problem is often referred as the leaky pipeline, and that is a harmful metaphor. It implies that we can “plug the holes” (Cannady et al., 2014), or worse, that

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Giving Metaphors a Second Look: Teaching as Selling

Few metaphors have generated more objections than equating students to customers and education to a product. It faces challenges on multiple fronts. Tuition dollars do not buy grades or a degree. Education does not come with a money-back guarantee, and the customer is not always

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