chapter  9
17 Pages


Attempts to characterize the child as a learner are a fruitful source of educational metaphor. According to Scheffler,1 metaphors 'often expose significant and surprising truths'. He also takes it for granted that the analogy between education and the content of the metaphor will break down at a certain point: 'every metaphor is limited in this way giving only a certain perspective on its subject'. Scheffler's remedy for this shortcoming is to employ a number of complementary metaphors. The naturalist's growth or plant metaphor insufficiently recognizes the cultural influence of the child's environment (see p. 100 above). It must be supplemented by the moulding or shaping metaphor which emphasizes the initiatives open to adults in selecting for the child those experiences which help to form his particular tastes and dispositions. In turn, the art metaphor remedies the defects of the moulding metaphor, since the sculptor, for example, cannot shape the marble irrespective of the internal structure of the stone. But though materials have their own natures and structures which cannot be ignored by the artist, they do not grow or develop spontaneously, and coming full circle, the plant metaphor emphasizes the child's inherent capacity for growth irrespective of interference from outside. However, the trouble with this corrective view of educational metaphors is that those who are emotionally committed to the sentiments contained in the growth metaphor are unlikely to see much merit in the moulding metaphor and vice versa. For, in terms of their appeal to the emotions, metaphors do not differ significantly from slogans: both tend to function as

battle cries, and to concede that one's adversary has a point is to betray the cause.