Metaphor in the construction of a learning environment

Cameron, Lynne (2008). Metaphor in the construction of a learning environment. In: Berendt, Eric ed. Metaphors for Learning. Human Cognitive Processing (22). Amsterdam: John Benjamin, pp. 159–176.



This chapter reports on the use of metaphor by teachers and students in the spoken discourse of a primary (elementary) school classroom. It takes a dynamic and ecological perspective, exploring the nature of metaphor use in classroom discourse and how metaphor use contributes to learning.

Metaphor is most likely to occur in classroom talk when teachers have something difficult to do, such as giving their students negative feedback or explaining an unfamiliar concept. Metaphor in the classroom not only offers ‘learning affordances’ for students to understand ideational content, but also carries values and attitudes. Over time, this affective content builds up to create a particular type of ‘learning climate’ in which teacher and students operate.

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