Metaphors are powerful. Peter Elbow explains that “[w]hen you make a metaphor, you call something by a wrong name. If you make a comparison, an analogy, or an example, you are thinking of something in terms of something else. There is always a contradiction” (Writing Without Teachers, 53). Contradictions are where we learn. It is when we use one idea to sharpen the focus of another that we get to our strongest understandings.
Metaphors force a tension, and tension is necessary for arriving at our best understanding.
I was thinking about the power of metaphors lately (you can read my whole long-winded, rambling, and somewhat incoherent thoughts here
, if you’re so inclined). I realized that I use metaphors for writing a lot
in the classroom. Multiple times in a single class, in fact.
It wasn’t until reading Elbow that I realized how useful these metaphors can truly be to students, encouraging them to seek out the spaces of conflict in their understandings of writing and carrying them out to some sort of conclusion.
With that power in mind, I’m starting a series of short posts that collect some of the writing metaphors I use in my own class, have read elsewhere, or any that you’d like to submit for inclusion.
So, tell me, what is writing like?