Control, Empowerment, and the Fake World: Converging Metaphors

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Control, Empowerment, and the Fake World: Converging Metaphors "Metaphors not only structure the way we think about school, they also help create the world of the school" (Cunningham, "Metaphors of Mind" handout). This quote speaks the truth! Metaphors are the tools we use both to structure thinking about our culture and to create culture at the same time. An excellent example of this dual and interconnected role of metaphor is Marshall's belief that "the dominan t metaphor in many schools is SCHOOL IS WORK" (Cunningham, "MOM" handout). Marcel Danesi would say that this metaphor underlies a way to "conceptualize the world" of school (Danesi 107). By thinking about school in this way, the world of school is "crea ted" to be a work-filled experience. Students need to do homework and work harder at their lessons and teachers must manage their classrooms (Cunningham, "MOM" handout). It is in this way that the metaphor is the "cognitive phenomenon that converts fact ual feeling states into artifactual conceptual structures" (Danesi 107). Together, people create metaphorical ideas that turn into "real" artifacts, the representative structures of culture. The metaphorical idea of "school is work" produces the artifac tual world that fosters homework, working harder, earning grades, and managing classrooms (Danesi 108). These artifactual signs in turn perpetuate the controlling metaphor. Metaphors, then, are at the heart of understanding the way we view aspects of our culture while we simultaneously build that culture. Umberto Eco stresses that culture is a collective experience. In his view, "there is no such thing as a single mind, un connected to other minds or to their (collective) social cultural constructions" (Cunningham, "MOM" handout). If this is taken as fact, the "social, cultural, historical, and institutional contexts" humans find themselves in contribute to creating their metaphors and in turn, their artifactual worlds. Therefore, the situational context and the metaphors found there are intertwined and must be examined together. For example, I work in a juvenile prison. Prison is an interesting cultural context to investigate from its various perspectives. Many metaphors may be made about the same system depending on a person's immediate cultural group, or what Eco better terme d as humans' "local cultural organizations" (Cunningham, "MOM" handout). The sign of school and its object, the prison school program, has at least three distinguishable interpretants in the facility in which I work. These interpretants can be viewed as metaphors and are different depending on whose point of view and "local cultural organization" one is investigating.

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