Encyclopedia of Science Education

Living Edition
| Editors: Richard Gunstone

Metaphors for Learning

  • Anna SfardEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6165-0_123-3


Acquisition metaphor; Learning; Metaphor; Participation metaphor

Metaphors for learning are metaphors that we use, either explicitly or in an only implicit manner, to describe learning. What often appears as but an innocent figure of speech may in fact inform how we think about the topic, what we are able to notice, and what pedagogical decisions we are likely to make. Different approaches to learning may have similar metaphorical underpinnings, and therefore it is useful to categorize them according to their underlying metaphors.

In this entry, a brief explanation on the role of metaphors in our conceptual thinking is followed by a succinct survey of the metaphors for learning identified by those who studied the topic. Two of these metaphors, known as acquisition metaphor and participation metaphor and considered as arguably the primary source of all known approaches to learning, are then presented in some detail.

Metaphors as a Source of Conceptual Systems

Metaphor can be...


Bodily Experience Familiar Word Conceptual Metaphor Legitimate Peripheral Participation Alternative Metaphor 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HaifaHaifaIsrael