Playshop 5: Metaphor
We think in metaphors and learn through stories. — Mary Catherine Bateson
So what is metaphor’s role in creative, imaginative thinking and meaning making?
What are the stages of creative inquiry?
Jane Hirschfield, in the lovely TED-Ed video, The Art of the Metaphor, explains the difficult concept of metaphor through the literary arts. “Poetry is one of the clearest places to find good metaphors,” she says and then quotes from Langston Hughes’s “Mother to Son” with the metaphor of “life ain’t been no crystal stair” and Carl Sandburg’s “the fog comes in on little cat feet.” View to learn more about metaphor can serve as a handle of a door to a new world.
“But metaphor is a way of thought before it is a way with words,” insists James Geary in his TED Talk, “Metaphorically Speaking,” and metaphorical thinking, he says, “is essential to how we can understand ourselves and others, how we communicate, learn, discover and invent.” And how we play. Einstein called his approach to problem-solving with elaborate analogies as “combinatorial play.”
Watch to learn more about how metaphor can move beyond language, thought, and play to “shake things up.”
Karen Heid, in her research inspired by Siegesmund’s (2000) visual inquiry has proposed a similar process for creative inquiry. Read to learn more about this process and how Heid has layered on the creative thinking skills that Torrance and Safier (1999) describe a fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration and to better grasp the concept of visual metaphors that surround us in this digital age and “involve the use of visualization, the creation of new visual forms within the theater of the mind” (Rodriguez, St. Clair, and Joshua, 2005).
Heid emphases the importance of metaphor in teaching the artistic or creative inquiry. The stages are perceiving, conceptualizing, expressing, and reflecting. We’re also adding exposition, much in keeping with the learning process advocated at the Brightworks School in San Francsico, CA. There, the stages are exploration, expression, and exposition.
To read one art teacher’s response to Heid’s research, check out the Arts Educator 2.0 group blog . . .
Additional recommended resources include the classic Metaphors We Live By by Lakoff and Johnson (1999). This book is also on our Virtual Bookshelf as an option for a Roots and Wings book selection. The MetaNet: A Multilingual Metaphor Repository is a fascinating project based on Lakoff’s work to explore how our use of metaphor affects how we think and view the world.
Also, the Historical Thesaurus Project devoted to studying the origin and history of metaphors, their use, and their impact on societal change sounds fascinating.