Historical Social Research

Nina Bonderup Dohn: Models, Modelling, Metaphors and Metaphorical Thinking – From an Educational Philosophical View. [Abstract]

In this contribution, I present my view of models and metaphors within educa-tional research, very broadly speaking. I start out by articulating my educational philosophical perspective as a form of applied philosophy. Inspired by Ricœur, I then define models as “instruments for configuration and reconfiguration”. I argue that metaphors and metaphorical thinking are more basic than models and modelling. The former can guide reasoning in a holistic, heuristic manner. The latter can be used analytically to develop the initial metaphorical similarity into articulated analogies. Models and metaphors may be deployed explicitly and consciously but may also (mis)lead cognition through implicit structuring of thinking. I proceed to give examples of the roles which models and metaphors have within different areas of (research in) education, teaching, and learning. One example is the explicit development of design patterns; another is implicit adherence to either an acquisition metaphor or a participation metaphor of learning. Towards the end, I provide tentative answers to three questions posed by my discussion pair, Willard McCarty, concerning 1) computer modelling, 2) open-endedness of models and metaphors, and 3) situated knowledge and relativism.

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