The Power of Metaphor
Reading through The Bible and the Task of Teaching by David I. Smith and John Shortt has me thinking about the power of metaphor. It doesn’t take much to do that.
We often use the word worldview to describe an operational way of thinking. Many, many people have complained about the use of worldview as inadequate. I have always struggled to grasp why because I thought of ideas as words and power. But maybe ideas are not just words and thoughts but rather pictures. The biblical usage of stories and metaphors would seem to support this.
When discussing authority recently it occurred to me that if the picture we have of authority is kingly and autocratic rather than one of shepherding, we are going to get governing wrong and what is worse we are not going to be able to change until we change the picture. This may seem so obvious as to be silly but many, many people stumble over this one picture.
This matters greatly in education on almost every level. Think of Marva Collins. In a way, she had to first change the way her student’s viewed themselves before she could teach them.
Or what about our 10th grade biology student slouching toward graduation? His picture of education is something that is done to him.
The teacher, the Christian, the communicator, or the governor first has the task of understanding what picture those around him are operating within before he even gets to the task of teaching, evangelizing, speaking or governing. This requires respect, I think. “Children are born persons.”
This is also where the power of poetry is based. A great poem is able to trick us into seeing something in a new light. The power of poetry lies in its ability to teach us how to change, to think in new ways, to see things differently or even to just recognize truth. We don’t have to know it is doing this. I know some of you hate poetry and it seems nothing more than romantic hogwash but I believe, and have blogged before, that poetry may be the link that binds the trivium to the quadrivium.
When Rousseau wanted to change the world he used the picture of Emile and silly as this picture was it changed the world. Winston Churchill changed the way the West viewed Communism on one day with one phrase: iron curtain.
When we become Christians it is because God has opened our eyes to see the truth of the gospel. He gives us faith. We see and believe.
That is education. We open the eyes of our students and they learn. We cannot learn for anyone else. We have to get that right first.