Culture and Metaphors

8 Feb

I have been reflecting on the importance of metaphors in the culture of schools. Metaphors are value-laden, embody a view about the world and society, and create the myths that we live by. Perceptions and assumptions about reality are revealed in the vocabulary used to describe that reality.

There are metaphors, which have been used for many years to shape thinking about schools and school systems, such as an army, a monastery, a prison, a family and a factory. In recent years there has been a considerable emphasis on the school as a business, with business terminology being used to describe the functions and outcomes of the school. A recent article by Stephen Holmes advocated schools adopting corporate management structures and techniques. [1] Such a move by schools would require a new way of thinking about a school, and would require change of culture which would reflect the new metaphor of the school as a business. For the principal placing a high value on providing information to parents, working within frameworks of accountability, developing approaches to marketing which have educational integrity and becoming comfortable with a more expansive view of the role of school in society, nationally and internationally.

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