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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Metaphors - A Time to Learn

Time to Learn

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:..." Despite the many opposites contained in the time for list found in Ecclesiastes, there is no mention of a time to learn. So I'll add that. I like to think that the reason to learn is not included is that there is no time we should not be learning. We do find "a time to seek and a time to lose." But we do not find a time to learn and a time not to learn. So we will take that as an encouragement to always learn.

This week we have the opportunity to learn about metaphors. Actually, most of you already know about metaphors. You certainly encounter them regularly. And you use them. If you are a Christian and you go to church, or if you read your Bible, you cannot escape metaphors. If you read children's books, metaphors are all around you. If you are a parent, you know about storks that deliver babies and a big jolly old man as large as I am who delivers presents to "good little boys and girls." If you watched the very first assignment in EDM310 you encountered Mr. Winkle.

I had expected you to substitute computers for pencils in the Tom Johnson assignment due last Sunday. Well, maybe I didn't expect that since many EDM310 students miss the metaphor (or allegory). It happens every semester. I guess that the correct statement is that I hoped that you would understand the metaphor, or that you would at least be suspicious that the post was not literally true. I was wrong. And I once again blame the situation on the type of schooling you have experienced in which you are taught that the teacher delivers truth; that you should memorize that truth; that you should burp it back on command; and then forget it after all the tests are complete.

So we now have a wonderful opportunity for learning.

Here are the results of the metaphor assignment:

119 still enrolled (started with 154)
109 active (10 never do anything but have not dropped course.)
20 clearly identified the metaphor. Five of these 20 wrote excellent commentaries.
9 identified metaphor after self described research or reading comments on the post
7 missed the metaphor but had suspicions it was not literal
50 missed the metaphor
23 active students did not do the assignment. My guess: they did not know what was happening in the post. If you did not do the post on time you should consider yourself as having missed the metaphor. You are hereby assigned the Missed the Metaphor Special Assignment.
10 inactive students did not do the assignment
119 Total

What is the Missed the Metaphor Special Assignment? This is it:

Read these three posts:

1. Metaphors: What They Are and Why We Use Them

In that post there is a Special Assignment. Do that assignment in a new post which is Additional Post #1. It does NOT substitute for Blog Post #14 as it did in the Spring semester.

Due midnight Sunday November 20, 2011.

2. Metaphor Discussion Update

3. Jennifer Asked: Why Use Metaphors? Here is My Answer

4. For more information also see:
You Missed the Point! It's Not A Pencil…"

Great Metaphor Posts This Semester

I am awarding a special prize to the 5 students whose posts on last week's assignment were especially outstanding. They will each receive a Kindle copy of the four educational books written by John T Spencer @johntspencer. Mr. Spencer uses the pen name Tom Johnson for some of his writings.

Here are the five prize winning posts:

Gretchen McPherson
Gina Phillips
Angela Pitts
Jenna Reynolds
Ramsey Willis

Prize For Others Who Got the Metaphor

I am awarding a Kindle copy of Mr. Spencer's book Pencil Me In: A Journey in the Fight for Graphite to the 24 other students who got the metaphor.

We all have an opportunity to learn. Even those who got the metaphor. Here is their assignment:

Special Assignment #1 for those who Got the Metaphor

Write a post about why we use metaphors. Give examples in history and literature and even EDM310. Due Sunday November 20, 2011.

And I have an opportunity to learn as well. My question is: Why do metaphors fail to work so often with college students? Or a better question: When do metaphors work with college students? And still another question: "Does the way people are taught affect their perceptions of what schools are about so much that metaphors (and sarcasm0 get lost in the process? If you have any thoughts on these three questions I would greatly appreciate your sharing them with me.

So off we go to learn. A never ending process!


  1. Thanks for reading, analyzing and commenting on my post. Metaphors are a powerful tool for understanding life, but I sometimes wonder if school knocks the metaphor out of education with the obsession over having the right answer and learning information efficiently. I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.

  2. Tricia Spafford has written a post in which she attempts to explain why many students may have missed the metaphor. It is well argued and well written. I recommend that you read it. Going to Bat For My people in EDM310

  3. I left a comment on that post describing why students didn't grasp the metaphor: it was allegorical (the hardest type of metaphor) and it was satirical (and poorly written satire at that).

    I want to reiterate: I wasn't trying to "fool" anyone on that post (a few students seemed angry that they had been fooled), but rather show the absurdity of some of the current educational technology policies through the use of satire and allegory.