Metaphor in the teaching of environmental science
Studies of metaphors in teaching and learning have underlined the important role of metaphors in reasoning, but have sometimes failed to show the effect of metaphor on how scientific concepts are represented, and have sometimes overlooked hidden metaphors in their attempts to be explicit about how metaphor functions. This study investigates metaphor in the context of teaching environmental science. It does not assume any simple correlation between surface linguistic cues and the presence or kind of metaphor. Two theoretical approaches have been chosen, Systemic Functional Linguistics (M. Halliday) which sees language as a social construction of meaning, and Image Schema (M Johnson and G Lakoff) which has developed in cognitive science and cognitive linguistics. These two approaches are used to discuss examples of metaphors from a number of lessons which have been observed and video-recorded, and in a variety of textbooks used as resource materials in teaching environmental science. The choice of environmental science as the subject matter arises from two of its distinct characteristics. One is the fact that ideology triggers and shapes the interests, decisions and choices of materials, issues, arguments, reasons, etc. But there is nothing like one unique ideology, on the contrary conflicts of different ideologies raise differences about what will be selected and how it will be represented. At this point there is a special role taken on by metaphor. Metaphors provide the means for creating differences and similarities, thus bringing together or keeping apart ideologies. Second, the teaching of environmental science does not appear as the teaching of science only, bounded from anything else, but is a blend of accounts of scientific and commonsense knowledge. Metaphors appear at the overlapping points where this blending takes place. It is not the purpose of the thesis to question, or to contribute to, the theoretical perspectives adopted. Rather, its interest is in how these perspectives provide, each in their own way, insights into the nature of the discourse of teaching environmental science, and thus to raise questions about its effectiveness.