What happens when you change the metaphor?


My friend and colleague Sam Chaltain recently wrote a wonderful piece, "To (Re)Design School, We Need New Metaphors. Let’s Start With These Five." In it he suggests that language organizes the way we design (or fail to design) the learning experience.

As I recently wrote, inspired by Sam, what if we exchanged murmurations for assembly lines, silos for aspen groves?

Sam points out that the consequences would be huge: 

"This is the task of the brain — to put us in touch with whatever it is that exists apart from ourselves. And this, too, is the task of the future of school. How, then, might we envision our schools less as a series of separate departments, classes, and cliques, and more as a holistic aspen grove — that biological marvel that appears at first to be an infinite forest of tall trees, but is in fact a single living organism (the oldest and largest on earth), bound together by a complex, interwoven, underground root network?

"Indeed, what does the concept of School-as-Aspen-Grove require us to design for, and prioritize, and be?"

 What other metaphors might we use for school?

And how might those metaphors help us to imagine better designs for learning?


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Christian Talbot