What terms can trainees use to describe learning? What metaphors are we drawn to? Learning as a road, a tree, a building, scaffolding, a journey, a river? Whatever – it is interesting to explain metaphors and to nut out their implicit meanings. What values can be detected? ( Nowadays it is common to refer to the brain like a computer – a machine analogy was very common in the 19th century.)
I often hear the term ‘scaffolding’ being used in relation to learning- often over-used. The term was apparently first used by Jerome Bruner in the late 1950s. This may be the most influential source: ‘Wood, D., Bruner, J.S., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of Psychology and Psychiatry. 17.’ In another source scaffolding is defined : ‘Scaffolding implies that given appropriate assistance, a learner can attain a goal or engage in a practice otherwise out of reach (Davis & Miyake, 2004).’
It is interesting to explore the metaphors that we use in training. Respect them, their origins, their meanings, but also remain sceptical about their over-use. Metaphors are very rich. In the wrong hands we deny language its meaning and depth. Over-use language and we deny our opportunity to be imaginative.