Metaphor and the learning landscape


Some years ago All in the Mind, a programme on radio 4 discussed the impact of using different metaphors to describe crime. They reported on an experiment conducted by colleagues at Stanford University which explored the impact of describing crime using the metaphor of beast or virus. When those who participated in the experiment were asked how best to manage crime, those working within the beast metaphor placed emphasis on responses that favoured enforcement or punishment. Those working in the virus metaphor placed more emphasis on social reform.   The metaphors impacted on how participants in the experiment saw the problem and what they saw as the solution.

I have no idea how seriously this experiment should be taken and the results are not as stark as my re-tellng suggests. But, it does offer a sharp, simple and neatly focused illustration of what critical discourse analysts have for a…

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