Control, Empowerment, and the Fake World: Converging Metaphors

Control, Empowerment, and the Fake World: Converging Metaphors

Length: 1971 words (5.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
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.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Control, Empowerment, and the Fake World: Converging Metaphors." 28 Jan 2020

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Awakening: Self-Empowerment of Older Adults Essays

- ... I would like to relate a personal experience I recently had that I believe supports the importance of recognizing an individual’s worth, and acting in such a way so as to empower that person, instead of diminishing them. In my community there is a chorale group that performs for local nursing homes and assisted living facilities. They sing songs, they interact with the people attending their performances and they are very dedicated in the service work that they do. They are all seniors as well, in their late 60s, 70s and 80s....   [tags: Self-Empowerment, Control, Life, Self-Esteem]

Research Papers
1262 words (3.6 pages)

The Empowerment of Rural Women in Limpopo Essay

- Introduction: Women in rural provinces tackle many adversities: from domestic violence to HIV ratings being increased due to the increase of sexual abuse. This project is there to help empower women to be independent, self-assured and conscious of their rights so, in the end, the women will be able to convey their knowledge and skills to the community. This project will educate the community on understanding HIV/AIDS, gender customs, sexuality, and domestic brutality. Background: Women empowerment motivates women with the courage to get rid of the shackles of certain cultural traditions and religious terms that have customarily held women dormant and incapable of seeing the power they hold....   [tags: rural development projects, woemen empowerment]

Research Papers
1097 words (3.1 pages)

The Real World or the Fake World Essay

- The Real World or the Fake World Real World or Fake World. Science Fiction not only deals with science in todays world, but also with science in the future. In the futuristic novel Snow Crash, by Neal Stevenson, and in the movie The Matrix computers become a huge part of the future society. Even though technology advances so much in futuristic societies, these futuristic societies still share some of the same aspects of todays world. Snow Crash and The Matrix express what life in the future might become....   [tags: Literature Science Fiction Books Papers]

Free Essays
2079 words (5.9 pages)

Employee Empowerment: Literature Review Essay

- In the literature there are two main views of empowerment (Lakew, 2011). The first is proposed by Robbins (2005), who defines the concept of empowerment as a ‘participative management, delegation and the granting of power to lower level employees to make and enforce decisions’. This definition is consistent with a structural or relational view. Another definition that considers the relational view of employee empowerment is provided by Brymar (1991) as ‘a process of decentralizing decision-making in an organisation, whereby managers give more discretion and autonomy to the front line employees’....   [tags: Employee Empowerment]

Research Papers
1265 words (3.6 pages)

Essay about Women Empowerment as a Means of Population Control

- The developing world faces unprecedented amounts of pressure on issues such as economic development, poverty, inadequate sanitation and today more than ever, population crises. According to the Eager’s theory of demographic transition, there are three fundamental stages in development. Stage one has high death rates and high fertility rates. Stage two comprises of a decrease in death rates due to better medical treatment and continued high fertility rates (this means high population growth rates)....   [tags: Women's Rights ]

Research Papers
2193 words (6.3 pages)

Empowerment Theory And The Women 's Shelter Essay

- Question #1: Empowerment Theory & the Women’s Shelter Empowerment theories are most commonly used in a context where victims are experiencing a form of oppression. For victims to recover and produce change in their lives, they must feel as though they have the power and resources to do so. In this paper, empowerment theory within a women’s shelter is explored and analyzed. Specific organizational changes are offered based off a study which highlighted the importance of creating a culture within the organization that will support an empowerment-based program....   [tags: Empowerment, Sociology, Management, The Residents]

Research Papers
857 words (2.4 pages)

Leadership And Empowerment Of Women Across The Globe Essay

- Women across the globe have been taking the world by storm through leadership and empowerment. Leadership and empowerment go hand in hand- without empowerment, one cannot lead, and without leadership, one cannot empower. Throughout this class we have explored ways in which women can become better leaders and can empower others to follow suit. Due to reading “Presence” by Amy Cuddy and “Vital Voices” by Alyse Nelson, I have developed my own definitions of leadership and empowerment, and have used those definitions to help me determine and enhance my personal strengths....   [tags: Management, Leadership, Sociology, Empowerment]

Research Papers
960 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on How Nurses can Provide Empowerment

- As nurses, it is important that we “be both empowered and competent enablers of patient empowerment.” (Burkhardt & Nathaniel, 2014, p. 493) We took an oath to follow an ethical code which requires us to act as our patient’s advocate while providing safe nursing care. Nevertheless, we cannot make every medical choice or decision on their behalf. We also cannot empower them, “because to do so removes the element of choice.” (Burkhardt & Nathaniel, 2014, p. 501) We can, however, “facilitate empowerment by working directly with patients and through addressing social, political, and environmental factors affecting empowerment of individuals and communities.” (Burkhardt & Nathaniel, 2014, p....   [tags: nursing, nurses, empowerment]

Research Papers
767 words (2.2 pages)

Essay on To what extent does teamwork lead to empowerment?

- To what extent does team work lead to empowerment. The term team work is often times viewed by others as a group of persons working towards achieving a common goal. This view is often echoed by employers who view team work as a group of employees working towards achieving organisational goals which would equate to increased revenues for the organisation. Empowerment on the other hand has been viewed as bestowing some level of autonomy on employees in an effort to build their self esteem whilst transferring some level of responsibility towards problem solving or trouble shooting....   [tags: Business, Team Work, Empowerment]

Research Papers
2663 words (7.6 pages)

Essay Empowerment of Women

-      Most men view themselves as being the superior life-form in society. They justify this belief by saying that they are stronger and more capable; thus, making them more qualified for the important roles in society. They place themselves on pedestals and force women to believe in their own inferiority to men and their incapability to excel educationally, politically, economically, and domestically. But the truth is that women will eventually advance in all these areas and come to realize that they do not need men to survive....   [tags: Women's Empowerment Principles]

Research Papers
693 words (2 pages)

Related Searches

For two weeks I have been listening very carefully to officers, teachers, and students to determine what metaphors they use to describe and create the school program at the facility. I have discovered that the school program may be viewed in (at least) these three metaphorical ways: school is control, school is empowerment, and school is fake.

The correctional officers see "SCHOOL AS CONTROL". Their "local cultural organization" is based on the security of the facility. Their job is to "control" the students, keep all in the facility from danger, and to maintain order. The correctional offic ers believe the school program should contribute to these goals by being very structured. School should be based on order: the students should remain seated and quiet at all times. One officer revealed his frustration with not being able to "control" t he students when they were not in school and expressed his disgust with my group work session which he viewed as chaotic. He said, "I don't understand you! You actually have something you can make them do! You can make them be quiet and yet you insist on having them in these unruly groups!" The commanding tone of the repeated word "make" as well as his view that the students are "unruly" because they are talking, demonstrate his belief in the metaphor that school is, or at least should be, a controll ing device. Another officer expressed her relief and joy in gaining control of the students at night by use of a school method: homework. She said, "I'm glad you are finally assigning homework. Now we can make them be quiet for at least an hour every night!" Again, the commanding nature of schoolwork is revealed in her words. The assignments here are assessed not for their educational value, but for their controlling value. Yet another example of the "school is control" metaphor was articulated by an officer who walked into my room this week and yelled at one student, "Sit down, shut up, and listen to your teacher! She's the one in charge here, not you!" It was difficult to tell the officer that I had asked the student to stand to recite a poem f or the class! The officer's goal was to make it very clear that the teacher, me in this case, had power and control over the student. In fact, he stated I was "in charge" even though he was the one making the controlling statements.

The teachers, however, have quite a different metaphor for school. Their language, based on their own "local cultural organization", reveals that "SCHOOL IS EMPOWERING" is their culture-building metaphor. It must be extremely confusing for the students to perceive the two conflicting ideas of control and empowerment from the adults in the facility. The teachers' speech reveals their view that school is the way to improve, gain control, and change things you want or need to change. The history teacher told her students this week : "Your right to vote is a precious right. It is your voice to tell your government your approval or disapproval of their actions." Here, learning about the vote is the way to become contributing, powerful members of society . The history teacher also gave the students her feelings on why they need to learn history is tied to gaining control and being empowered. She said, "Learn about the past so you won't make the same mistakes in the future." Learning to analyze is the w ay to problem solve. The science teacher contributed to this "school is empowerment" metaphor with his statement, "No one can take your education from you. It is where you gain strength. It's yours forever." My own "local cultural" past explains my ow n reason for adopting the "school is empowerment" metaphor. Since my father forbade his daughters to go to college while stating he would pay for his sons to go if they chose to do so, my decision to go to undergraduate and on to graduate school has empo wered me in many ways. I worked hard to put myself through school and I have gained strength and control of my life by making college a part of my world. I refused the "sexist culture" I was raised in and feel empowered by continuing to work towards my educational goals. I discovered that this feeling of "school is empowering" finds its way into the language I use to with my students. I said to a doubting student that "Education is the key to your future. Being literate, knowing how to use language w ell, is the way to get ahead." My language, as well as the other teachers' language at the facility, is full of descriptions that insist school is the way to gain control of your life. We do so because academics have been an empowering force in our own lives.

Unfortunately, not all students have adopted the teachers' "school is empowerment" metaphor to create the school culture. In fact, I heard three different students say these statements this week that disturbed me very much:

What does this have to do with real life?
Why do I have to do this? I'm never going to use this!
This does not mean anything to me!
Even more disturbing was the explanation one student gave to another student who questioned the value of a math assignment. He simply said, "Shut up. School is just something you do. Just get through it."

These students' comments made me think of a book I read by Anne Haas Dyson entitled Social Worlds of Children Learning to Write. It opens with the following scene:

(Sonya and Anita lay beside each other on the floor. James and Lamar stand nearby).
"Sonya is my neighbor," Anita says.
"But in school, " explains Lamar, "Not in real life."
"We're not talking about real life," adds James. We're talking about fake life" (Dyson 1).
These first graders share the same metaphor for school as my high school students do: "SCHOOL IS A FAKE LIFE". My students' comments reveal their solid belief that school does not apply to the "real world" and that it has no real "use" or "meaning" for them. Some students view school as useless, but just something one "has to do". The metaphor of "school is fake" has a culture building result that educators would (and do!) find disastrous. My students, on the other hand, share a "local cultural organ ization" that is filled with negativity about attending school. Their peers, parents, siblings, and other role models may put school down or perhaps did not complete school themselves. Considering the troubles in their "real" lives, school often seems u nimportant considering the tragedies surrounding them. They may skip school to make money to help support their families or they may attend but not be able to concentrate.

As educators, it is important to investigate the power of metaphors such as these in creating "artifactual conceptual structures" and beliefs (Danesi 107). As a teacher at this correctional facility, I see both the "school is control" and the "school is fake" metaphors to be extremely damaging to the students' ability to learn. How can educators work to reshape "negative" metaphors into more positive ones? I believe that Umberto Eco's rhizome idea is useful in this situation. In Eco's belief, since th ere is "no such thing as a single mind, unconnected to other minds or to their (collective) social cultural constructions" there is a real potential for influence (Cunningham, "MOM" handout). In other words, thinking and teaching and learning are all "di alogic" and "connected" to each other and teachers can inundate students with their metaphors of empowerment and other positive metaphors through the use of dialogue. The key is to try to converge these metaphors and to come to some higher understanding . Is there a need for the teacher to be in "control" sometimes in school? Can students see the empowering nature of a diploma in the fact that it creates job opportunities? Are students sometimes, or even often, right in saying that some activities hav e no "real" value to life? If there is some truth in all of these statements, and I believe there is, then it is time at my facility to investigate our metaphors' value, interplay, and the language we use to convey these judgments on our school program. Together, with the "collective mind" we share in our "collective social cultural constructions" in the prison, officers, students, and teachers need to evaluate learning. I agree with Eco's beliefs, restated by Dr. Cunningham: "(Learning) is . . . a mat ter of constructing and navigating a local, situated path through a rhizomous labyrinth, a process of dialogue and negotiation with and within a local sociocultural context" (Cunningham, "MOM" handout). At my facility, we need to come together to create a new culture. We can do so by converging our metaphors and using language that creates "artifactual" results in a "real" curriculum that is controlled enough to be effective, but negotiated enough to be empowering.

Works Cited

Cunningham, Donald. "Metaphors of Mind". Class Handout.

Danesi, Marcel. Messages and Meanings: An Introduction to Semiotics. Canadian Scholar's Press, Inc.: Toronto, Canada. 1993. 107-126.

Dyson, Anne Haas. Social Worlds of Children Learning to Write. Teachers College Press, New York. 1993. 1-3.

Quotes from correctional officers, teachers, and students.
Return to