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Picturing experience : metaphor as method, data and pedagogical resource
chapterposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Alison Black
Whilst the majority of chapters in this book use metaphor to explore perspectives on education research, this chapter focuses on metaphor as a research method. Metaphor is a viable and important resource for making educational worlds visible and for supporting understanding of, and connection with, experience and knowledge. The attraction of metaphor as a methodological resource is its capacity to render and connect knowledge and life experiences in relevant and meaningful ways. As a researcher interested in narrative and arts-based inquiry, metaphor has been an important resource for understanding lived experience and for engaging both makers and viewers in meaning-making encounters. In my research with early childhood teachers, metaphor has been central to inquiry and reflection and has operated as method, data and pedagogical tool. As a result of this ability to serve as both research method and representational resource, metaphor has incredible meaning-making and pedagogical capabilities. Metaphors propel meaning generation in education research by enabling the meanings educators bring to and use in educational contexts to be simultaneously accessed and represented. Representations then offer a backdrop for in-depth exploration of the realities and complexities of workplaces and experience. This chapter presents data collected during a research inquiry where early childhood educators used story, metaphor and drawing to examine and represent their experiences as they engaged in a personal and a collaborative inquiry into what their work was like. To illustrate the potential of arts-based representations for makers and viewers, examples of teachers’ experimentation with metaphor and drawing are offered. In these examples the affective, emotional, moral and embodied dimensions of teachers’ knowing are made apparent and a window into their experience is opened. The metaphors and drawings encourage connection making and act as catalysts for discourse, awareness and insight –— for teachers themselves, for myself as the researcher, and for viewers and readers.