TOPIC: Linguistics & Metaphor in Adult Learning

Articles to read: Cohort members select three-

On Linguistics and adult second language acquisition:

On Metaphors:

On Leadership in Education: homepage link to articles:
Solving, not attacking complex problems, and
Relationships, the building blocks of life

Linguistics and Adult second language acquisition

Research in adult second language acquisition suggests that interaction between internal and external factors explains learning process.

Internal factors:

  • Chomsky's "Universal grammar"
  • Individual differences:
    • Motivation
    • age
    • gender
    • memory
    • prior language experience

External factors (teaching interventions):

  • Quality and quantity of language input
  • Explicit/implicit negative feedback
  • Context of learning


Making and understanding METAPHOR is a prime endeavor of CRITICAL THINKING curriculum.
Metaphoric Expression is an arts-based learning strategy; “All the world’s a stage”…. “The fog comes on little cat feet”…
Metaphor makes the familiar strange, and the strange familiar, to make implied comparison, where one concept stands for another.
Mastery of metaphor implies intuitive perception of similarity within dissimilarity.
META= with, PHOR, pherein (Gk.) = to carry; METAPHOR works to transfer and connect ideas.
Going beyond simile, METAPHOR does without the linking word like…for a closer connection.
Making metaphor employs creativity: The process relies on open-minded detachment, open-ended deferment, and the presence of wonder, within speculative tolerance for ambiguity.

Metaphorical expression is a 3 step process of thinking, a habit of mind as artful learning:
1) Set the scene: hook interest with relevance to brainstorm ideas.
2) Examine, collect, inquire, and organize information in many ways (concept map, graphic organizer)
3) Synthesize understandings to create many kinds of metaphors- visual, verbal, and kinesthetic.

ANALOGY- a broad term for creating similarity; to establish likeness, comparison, relationship, correspondence, parallel, and resemblance of things and concepts that are similar on one aspect, while otherwise unlike. Four step process:
Inquiry: How is democracy like a diamond?
Experience and Create: three kinds of analogy, and examples:
  • Direct analogy- compares ideas, objects, and categories, linking concrete/abstract.
(Creativity machine, cell function, long division, photo-synthesis).
  • Personal analogy- works to personify, identify with, empathy, “pretend you are a…”
(Comfortable old shoe, rain forest, tree, flower, cloud, animal, bird).
  • Compressed conflict analogy- poses opposites, mixed feelings, paradox, contradiction, oxymoron.
(Passive violence, imprisoned freedom, at once old and new.)

Reflection: Metaphor engages many intellectual functions, building brain power as holistic unity of analytic and spatial reasoning; to connect the practical- verbal, abstract, linear organized left brain with the creative, divergent, non-verbal right brain. Back brain lobe is the unifier, activated by body kinesthetic movement. Typically, less than 1-5% of neurons are used.

W. J. J. Gordon (1961). Synetics: Development of Creative Capacity. Metaphoric problem solving model. Strength of metaphor relates to the degree of cognitive dissonance, or conceptual distance, to mind stretch, for more productive thinking. Metaphor works to engage both the emotions and intuitive,non-rational mind for long term menory and learning success. Discourse to create and interpret metaphor allows group interaction to gather the power of collective wisdom and deeper reflective understanding.

Joyce, B, Weil, M. & Showers, B. (2000). Models of Teaching.
Hanson, J.R. & Silver, H.F. (1996) Learning Styles & Strategies.
Georgia Georgia Critical Thinking Skills Strategies (1994)
Leonard Bernstein- Comprehensive School reform
Society of Edu-Kinesthetics- Brain Gym

Metaphor & Education Leadership

How does metaphor impact the triad of education public policy, leadership, and teaching/learning?

Metaphor is a critical thinking skill, an aspect of critical reflective pedagogy; understanding that metaphor implies worldview paradigm is necessary to the changemaking process of reframing or perspective transformation. Adult education professional development in-service programs for teachers and administrators depends on awareness of personal and organizational worldview perspectives as precursor to theory, as basis for decision-making criteria. Worldview metaphor is implicit in messages made at home, school, and in the community. Change making depends on worldview, or personal paradigm as the recognition of patterns in one’s relations to environment, determining personal identity and our expectations of cause and effect.

Excerpts from the book, “Learning Organizations”, a collection of essays by change-makers edited by Sarita Chawla and John Renesch, (1995) Productivity Press, Portland, Oregon; provide possibilities for educators as leaders and change agents in their classrooms, schools and communities. “Education needs to be reinvented from the outside in, for what is of value to society” says Bela Banathy, a leading systems designer of San Francisco’s Saybrook Institute. Her protégé, John H. Wood describes the Triune Brain, comprised of the sensory reptilian brain, the emotional limbic system and the creative neo cortex, integrated only by imagery, speaking to the power of the arts and metaphor in higher-level learning. Wood poses three new organizational beatitudes:(1) People are passionate about contributing their ingenuity and shared visions to higher values of stewardship, involvement, cooperation and understanding. (2) Potentials are nurtured as we promote the continued development of self and organized society. (3) Being part of the process of society and surroundings is essential to a vital organization, represented by images and rituals as cultural symbols. Carl Jung said “People change when they get back to their childhood: being in touch with intuition and femininity.” Latino leaders speak of el meollo, the heart of the matter, essential nature; that awareness makes for success in cultures.

Malcolm Knowles, in the Adult Learner: A Neglected Species (2nd edition, 1978) establishes the importance of metaphor as basis for theory, sourcing Reese and Overton about worldview: ”Any theory presupposes a more general model according to which concepts are formulated. The most general models are worldview metaphysical systems, basic models of the nature of human reality; two systems emerge- organic and mechanistic." Worldview paradigms, then balance the growth and machine meatphor. What is your worldview?

The following is a general survey of adult learning theories presented as annotated bibliography.

Andragogy: Curriculum Rationale

Adults learn in different ways than children. One of the major factors in adult education is motivation. Maslow’s motivational theories explain how adults are motivated by their own needs . Motivation influences the learning process in three stages: beginning, during, and ending. The Time Continuum Model of Motivation helps us understand the influence of motivation.
Three Critical Periods in any Learning Sequence are:
1. Beginning: learners enter and start the process attitudes; needs are primary.
2. During: learners are involved in the body of the main content; stimulation and affect are formaost.
3. Ending: the learner is to finish; competence and reinforcement are most important.

SYNTHESIS: Friere's Pedagogy of the Oppressed coupled to Blooms’Taxonomy of Critical Thinking
1. Awakening: discovery 1. recognition
2. Praxis: reflective practice 2. analysis
3. Knowledge: practical and critical 3. synthesis
4. Learning: construction 4. application
5. Transmission; democratic process 5. evaluation
Nine Pillars to Pedagogy : Paolo Friere- Brazilian social activist, teacher of literacy in the slums, international reknown.
1. Learning never ends
2. To be aware of the conditioning of learners
3. to respect the freedom of the learner
4. to use common sense
5. to have humility, tolerance, and advocate for the rights of learners
6. to be in touch with reality
7. to have joy and hope
8. to have the conviction that change is possible
9. to foster curiosity

Adult Learning Theories

Adult education prepares learners to be “whole persons” and workers through a curriculum developed from contemporary philosophies of education. This curriculum takes advantage of adult characteristics to help them to gain understanding and to be able to apply what they learn to the real world. Adults need to learn how to think creatively and to solve problems. That means they need to learn to develop wisdom, not just information; gain a body of knowledge, not just facts; develop mastery of crafts, not just skills; perform sensitivity, not just behavioral acts; exhibit human virtues, not just attitudes; and engage rigorous thinking, not just flexibility.
Adult education curriculum recognizes intrinsic value of education as well as communal and social functions of education. Specifically, this curriculum values individual fulfillment, cultural identification, community belonging, social justice, and national wealth. Curriculum include multicultural content to reflect internationalization of changing environment and global economy.
Adults are characterized as autonomous, self-directed, relevancy-oriented, practical, highly motivated, rich in life experiences, and with a strong sense of purpose; traits that determine adult education as being focused on cooperation, responsiveness and creativity.
Adult learners are committed to unfettered intellectual inquiry and academic freedom in their lifelong learning experience.
Theories emphasizing social functions of education hold that learning is for social change, to confront culture stereotype of race, class, and gender.
The aim of adult education is nurture of self-directed, empowered adults who will function as proactive individuals who will pursue assumptions of paradigm, prescriptions, and causes. Adult learners are expected to learn democracy and critical literacy of media.
Theories holding a holistic view of education assert that adult learners need to learn in all contexts: social, cultural, economic;
to be able to recognize cultural diversity, and to gain sensitivity to religion, language, ability/disability, sexual orientation, political climate, and ethical grounding.
As a result, adult education brings about individual change, organizational change, and community and societal change.
philosophy of education insists that human emotional and affective dimensions be afforded equal importance with other aspects of development toward their fullest potentials in the educational process. Viewing adult education from a developmental perspective sees learning led by knowledge of life cycle. The person progresses through a series of eras, passages, or transitional phases at various age ranges.
Theories that call for utilizing an entrepreneurial approach to curriculum design in order for students to be more competitive and responsive. Philosophies of adult education differ in the weight they place on different aspects of learner development.

General Scaffold of Andragogy:
  1. Motivation 2. Commitment 3. Understanding 4. Learning Process

Optimal Motivation:
a. Understanding: an adult learner must have complete understanding of the learning.
b. Instruction: an adult learner must be in instruction that fits the learner’s level of experience and skill.
Optimal Commitment:
a. Empathy: an adult learner must believe the instructor cares for the learner and the learner’s education.
b. Pedagogy: an adult learner must believe the instructor is a quality teachers and a quality person.
Optimal Understanding:
a. Comprehension: an adult learner can easily understand the subject being taught and help teach others.
b. Clarity: an adult learner can provide ways for others to comprehend what has been taught.

The Learning Process
: vary with perspectives of the purposes of education:
1) draw from life experiences and multiple work, family and community contexts; 2) self-direction, critical reflection, experiential learning; 3) change as primary result of education: individual, organization, and social change; 4) lifelong learning: growth and development of individual—through the arts, naturalist, fitness/wellness, and practical problem solving for issues in adult lifespan; 5) higher-order cognitive skills of analysis, interpretation, application, and synthesis; with conceptual level framing learner ability to assimilate and construct knowledge in a progression from concrete to abstract; 6) holistic view of education: individual fulfillment, cultural identification, community belonging, social justice, national wealth, and global awareness; 7) entrepreneurship; and 12) internationalization.

  • Three trends in adult education : cross cultural proficiency, theory to practice, and distance learning technology.
    Import of andragogy to PK-16 Education: Pk-16 schools invite the involvement of parents; teacher professional development:
    The need to know: parents need know why they and their children need to learn.
    Learner self-concept: to be responsible for their own & children’s decisions.
    Role of learner’s experience: adult learners have a variety of experiences to share.
    Andragogy is a humanistic theoretical framework applied primarily to adult education that PK-16 educators could use as they interact with parents and peers and students. Knowles states that as adults are capable of self-directed learning, so are many youth, and therefore should be moved in that direction as quickly as possible.

Adult Learning Strategy and Methods:

Facilitating self-motivation, collaboratively setting learning goals, spurning collective action.
Group discussion/dialogue: generating discourse of democracy, questioning & reframing assumptions.
Critical reflective pedagogy: meta-cognition, silent moments/ silent reading time, awareness of assumptions/hegemony, working theory, critical literacy of mass media, and skills for creating political voice and agency.
Active situated learning: Games, role-play, psychodrama, case studies, simulations.
Action words: sort, organize, categorize, diagram, prioritize, recite, advocate, bargain, protest, justify, debate, practice, synthesize, follow through. ASKING: So what? Now what? to follow through...

Adult Learning Assessment as the Transformative Leadership Process

Intersects and overlaps other components; Integrates Qualitative and Quantitative data.
Involves self/ peer evaluation: open ended inquiry for student feedback.
Assessment is contextual, constructivist, experiential, direct, and authentic, and restores fitness power relations in organizations.
More than measurement, it is a way to gain insight into the learning process and create change through dialogue. Feedback is holistic, informal, balanced, embedded in instruction, sustainable.

Standards: SACS, SAIS, NCATE (National Council-Accreditation of Teacher Education

Levinson, D. (2001) “A Conception of Adult Development.” in Human Development, Diessner, R. & Tiegs, J. Eds. Guilford, Ct. : McGraw Hill/Dushkin. Pp. 296-306.

Theory: Adult learning is led by knowledge of life cycle, the person progresses through a series of eras, passages, transitional phases at various age ranges. Early Adult- age 17-22: Bridge from adolescence to new structures, paradigm shifts. Early Adulthood- age 22-40: Time for gaining status and recognition for occupational achievement. Career phases come to play in equation- Burnout, recommitment. Midlife- age 40-45: The process of individuation, autonomy, self-awareness, through reflection, gaining compassion and judiciousness. Middle Ages- 40-65: Senior status in unique worlds and desire to be responsible for self as a well as to mentor the upcoming generations. Aquiring Leadership and social action & advocacy skills. Late Adulthood- age 60-65 …to 110 (the fastest growing population group) Thoughtful confrontation, Seeking resolution to moral dilemmas, Focus on issues, Life Review, Reflection. ( See; Kohlberg, L. on theory of Moral Development)

Strategy/Method: Invite learner self-awareness of place in life cycle, initiate identification of issues, prioritizing, goal setting, action plan.

Assessment: Emphasis on learning for personal growth and development through self and peer evaluation. Dialogue for social interaction, constructive criticism. Hunt et al, in Glickman, G. & Ross-Gordon (1998) Conceptual Level of Adult Learners.

Theory: Conceptual cognitive level of learner frames student ability to assimilate and construct knowledge in a progression from concrete to abstract. Not a matter of chronological age, a function of experience and education as critical pedagogy.

Low conceptual level- Concrete Thinking, views issues as polarity of opposites, a reductive dichotomy, Black/White. Cannot define a problem, tends to be reactive rather than proactive. Returns to old habits rather than new frame of reference. Rule Oriented. Punative disciplinary control rather than cooperative. Confused. Moderate Conceptual Level- Becoming emerging abstract thinker, Defines a simplistic problem to generate a limited range of options, yet to generate a comprehensive plan.Needs help with complex problems and thinking of consequences of actions.

High Level Conceptual Learners- Abstract Thinker; independent, self-actualizing, integrating values and actions-behaviors for a personal ethic, gaining integrity. Resourceful, flexible, developing an individual philosophy.

Strategy/methods: Adult Learners are empowered by meta-cognitive understandings of conceptual levels to increase their powers of communicating with and energizing others. Moving from the concrete to abstract involves presenting examples, brainstorming options, and considering root causes: Truths & Consequences. EQ= Emotional Intelligence. Progressing beyond dichotomy to complexity.
Learner use of concept mapping, creative advanced visual- graphic organizers, and diagrams to frame knowledge.Teaching with objects- real life props, realia. Kinesthetic learning styles: Music, dance-movement, drama. Visual thinking; Arts Infusion. Verbal artistry.

Senge. Peter. (1990) The Fifth Discipline. New York: Doubleday Currency. Five Realms of Leadership Competency:
Systems Thinking
- Understanding connectivity, Holistic view.
Personal Mastery- Compassion, Authenticity, Autonomy. Spirit, Trust, Value of Ambiguity. Support. Learning, responsibility, Ownership, Belonging.
Mental Models- Advanced organizers as metaphor, insights, meaning.
Shared Vision- Goals, Vitality, Purpose, Values, Commitment.
Team Learning- Cooperative Creativity, Harmony, Relationship. Co-design, Unity. Conner, M.L. (1997-2005) “Informal Learning”
75% of learning is informal , serendipitous, random gaining attitudes, values, skills, knowledge through interactions with co-workers, mentoring, on the job experience., community involvement, teaming, playing.
Assessments guide involvement: Learning styles, Motivation style, Engagement Style, Multiple Intelligences, Emotional Intelligence Quotient EQ, Organizational Fitness.
Learning styles: Visual, Auditory, Tactile-kinesthetic.
Continuums: Active/Reflective, Sensing/Intuitive, Visual/Verbal, Sequential/Global.
Motivations: GOAL Oriented, Relationship oriented, Learning oriented
(note: Complexity Leadership recommends informal communication means)

Critical thinking Skills: 3 focus concepts- Metaphor gets to abstraction, Compare/Contrast finds critical attributes, Decision Making. Emphasis on criteria and grounding values.
Seven Steps to Critical thinking: Label, identify. Classify, compare, integrate. Decode. Encode, Apply to predict. Sum it up.

Harvard Curriculum Review: Goals: Foster habits of mind for adaptability to change and lifelong learning, to produce responsible human beings as global citizens. Students will be able to engage in oral communication, integrate internal/external forces, reason a moral ethos, reflect, think independently, be self-disciplined learners.

8 Year Plan –High School aged learner- emerging adulthood- quantitative proof of the validity of alternative assessments, Student led curriculum, Critical thinking pedagogy, Social needs and relevance- Community service learning, Risk-free environment for teachers/students. Social skills, vocational skills, physical education/fitness ( 20% time allotment). Appreticeship. Learning styles considerations. Democratic process.

From Ageing to Sageing, a workbook for senior citizens.
Bridges, William. Transitions- the three I’s: Identity, Insight, Independence.
LIFE SPAN PHASES: Gail Sheeley, Passages.

Problematizing, Problem posing: Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970), and Pedagogy of Hope, Pablo Friere (1970).
Perspective Transformation: Karl Mezirow (1991).

Brookfield, S. (1995). “Adult Learning: An Overview”, in Tuinjman, A. International Encyclopedia of Education. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Caffarella, R. Planning Programs for Adult Learning: A Practical guide for Education, Training and Staff Development 2nd Edition). (2002) San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Falchikov, N. (2005) Improving Assessment Through Student Involvement-Practical Solutions for aiding learning in higher and further education New York: Routledge Falmer.

Levinson, D. (2001) “A Conception of Adult Development.” in Human Development, Diessner, R. & Tiegs, J. Eds. Guilford, Ct. : McGraw Hill/Dushkin. Pp. 296-306.

Marianne Scott, Tom Thrasher, Aaron Lu, and Craig Bouvier, contributors, editors of this wiki page.