Language Futures: Languages in Higher
Education Conference 2012
Edinburgh
5-6 July 2012
Metaphor in the
Language of
Education
John C. Wade
University of Cagliari (Italy)
[email protected]

“EDUCATION – At Mr Wackford
Squeers’s Academy, Dotheboys Hall, at
the delightful village of Dotheboys, near
Greta Bridge in Yorkshire, Youth are
boarded, clothed, booked, furnished with
pocket money, provided with all
necessaries, instructed in all languages
living and dead, mathematics,
orthography, geometry, astronomy,
trigonometry, the use of the globes,
algebra, single stick (if required), writing
arithmetic, fortification, and every other
branch of classical literature. Terms
twenty guinea per annum. No extras, no
vacations, and diet unparalleled.”
From Nicholas Nickleby by Charles
Dickens (1812-1870).
1. Overall aims of study
Identify the salient characteristics of
educational discourse.
 Identify the learning needs of Italian
students on Education degrees at the
University of Cagliari.
 Production of EAP teaching materials
based on the needs of learners.

2. Learner needs
“In the first instance, we can make a basic
distinction between target needs (i.e.
what the learner needs to do in the
target situation) and learning needs (i.e.
what the learner needs to do in order to
learn).”
T. Hutchinson, A. Waters (1987) English for Specific Purposes: A learning-centred approach. CUP, Cambridge
Needs analysis
Ongoing data collection.
 University of Cagliari quality control
questionnaires.
 Informal interviews with ERASMUS
students.

Observations





English is interesting.
English is an important
language.
Wider professional
opportunities.
Need to speak English.
Need for extensive remedial
work.
University of Cagliari quality control
questionnaires



Comprehension of specialised
academic texts for
thesis/dissertation research.
Follow lessons and seminars
in the English language, e.g.
Child Literature, Turkish
Education System, School
Management, etc.
Write weekly reports in English
for continuous assessment.
Data from University of Cagliari ERASMUS
exchange students, Cukurova University, Adana,
Turkey
3. Corpus linguistics

“Strictly speaking, a corpus by itself can do nothing at all,
being nothing other than a store of used language.
Corpus access software, however, can re-arrange that
store so that observations of various kinds can be made.
If a corpus represents, very roughly and partially, a
speaker’s experience of language, the access software
re-orders that experience so that it can be examined in
ways that are usually impossible.”
(The italics are mine)
S. Hunston (2002) Corpora in Applied Linguistics. CUP, Cambridge.
Advantages
Study of word frequency.
 Identification of recurrent language
patterns in large bodies of text.
 Automatic annotation saves time.
 The Web provides an almost limitless
source of data¹.

¹Sharoff, S. (2006) ‘Open-source corpora: using the net to fish for linguistic data’, in The International
Journal of Corpus Linguistics 11/4, pp. 435-462.
Disadvantages





Automatic annotation is not always reliable.
Manual annotation is time-consuming, but
more accurate.
A corpus represents language at a given
point in time. Therefore, the data can quickly
become obsolete.
There can be problems with copyright.
Open access material on the Web can be of
dubious quality.
Methodology



Data collection - selection of sources: books,
academic articles, conference papers, media,
abstracts, spoken discourse (c. 1 million words).
Computerisation - scanning or downloading
from Web, correction, converting to widely
recognised text format.
Annotation - manually or with concordancer,
e.g. KWIC (Key Word in Context).
cf. C.F. Meyer (2002) English Corpus Linguistics: An introduction. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
KWIC Annotation Tool
CONCORDANCE
S. Federici & J.C. Wade (2007) ‘Letting in the light and working with the Web: A dynamic corpus development
approach to interpreting metaphor’, Proceedings of the Corpus Linguistics Conference Birmingham 2007, M. Davis, P.
Rayson, S. Hunston e P. Danielsson (eds), http://corpus.bham.ac.uk/corplingproceedings07/paper/207_Paper.pdf.
4. Metaphor

“But that intellectual concepts, and the sounds formed
from inner perception which designate them,
convey, with progressive use, a deeper and more
soul-striving content, is shown by the experience of all
languages which have undergone centuries of
development. Talented writers give the words
enhanced content, and an eagerly receptive nation
adopts and propagates it.”
(The italics are mine)
Wilhelm von Humboldt (1836), On Language: On the discovery of human language construction and its
influence on the mental development of the human species.
Interpretations of metaphor

“[…] metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in
language, but in thought and action. Our ordinary
conceptual system, in terms of which we both think
and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature.”1

“the use of metaphor is one of the many devices
available to the scientific community to accomplish
the task of accommodation of language to the causal
structure of the world.”2
1G.
Lakoff, M. Johnson (1980) Metaphors We Live By, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
2R.
Boyd (1993) ‘Metaphor and theory change: What is “metaphor” a metaphor for?’ in A. Ortony (ed.)
Metaphor and Thought (Second Edition), CUP, New York.
Shaping educational thinking

“There is a very different tradition associated with the
notion of metaphor, however - one which treats
metaphor as central to the task of accounting for our
perspectives on the world: how we think about things,
make sense of reality, and set the problems we later
try to solve. In this second sense, ‘metaphor’ refers
both to a certain kind of product - a perspective or
frame, a way of looking at things - and to a certain
kind of process - a process by which new
perspectives on the world come into existence.”
D.A. Schön (1979), cited in D. Block (1999) ‘Who framed SLA research: Problem framing and metaphoric
accounts of the SLA research process’ in L. Cameron, G. Low (eds) Researching and Applying Metaphor.
CUP, Cambridge.
Shaping educational thinking

“There is a very different tradition associated with the
notion of metaphor, however - one which treats
metaphor as central to the task of accounting for our
metaphor
perspectives onThe
thePICTURE
world: how
we think about things,
make sense of reality,
and picture
set the problems we later
have a partial
try to solve. In this second sense, ‘metaphor’ refers
a picture
both to a certainbuild
kind
of product - a perspective or
frame, a way of alooking
things - and to a certain
picture ofat
learning
kind of process - a process by which new
be pictured as
perspectives ontothe
world come into existence.”
D.A. Schön (1979), cited in D. Block (1999) ‘Who framed SLA research: Problem framing and metaphoric
accounts of the SLA research process’ in L. Cameron, G. Low (eds) Researching and Applying Metaphor.
CUP, Cambridge.
Key concepts

Metaphor underlies our thinking at a deep
level.

Metaphor can also be used overtly, especially
in literary texts, but not only¹.

It is used both to understand and explain the
world around us.
¹cf. G. Steen (1994) Understanding Metaphor in Literature. Longman, Harlow.
Pedagogical issues





Conceptual understanding of specific language areas
beyond traditional grammar and lexis
Metaphor is frequent in academic writing, because we
are often dealing with abstract concepts2
As yet little work has been done on using metaphor for
teaching purposes2
Topic based activities might allow us to work on
extending the limitations of conventional metaphors1
Learner creativity may be exploited in conceptualising
given views of the world through metaphor, i.e X is Y1
cf. 1G.D. Low (1988) ‘On teaching metaphor’ in Applied Linguistics 9/2, pp. 125-147; 2L. Cameron & G.D.
Low (1999) ‘Metaphor’ in Language Teaching 32/2, pp. 77-96.
5. Key concepts in Education?
“Let us then suppose the mind to be,
as we say, white paper void of all
characters, without any ideas. How
comes it to be furnished? Whence
comes it by that vast store which
the busy and boundless fancy of
man has painted on it with an
almost endless variety? Whence has
it all the materials of reason and
knowledge? To this I answer, in
one word, from experience.”1
(The italics are mine)
“To imposition from above is opposed
expression and cultivation of
individuality; to external discipline
is opposed free activity; to learning
from texts and teachers, learning
through experience; to acquisition
of isolated skills and techniques by
drill is opposed acquisition of them
by means of attaining ends which
make direct vital appeal; to
preparation for a more or less
remote future is opposed making
the most of the opportunities of
present life; to static aims and
materials is opposed acquaintance
with a changing world […].”2
1John
Locke (1690) An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.
2John
Dewey (1938) Experience and Education.
European educational policy
A number of factors influence current
thinking about education policy in
Europe:
 Greater mobility within the EU
 An ageing population
 Effects of globalisation
 Technological advances
Knowledge-based society




Raise the level of knowledge, skills and
competences in society.
Aim to maximise the potential of individuals in
terms of their personal development and their
contribution to a sustainable and democratic
knowledge-based society.
Create more flexible learning pathways into and
within higher education.
Allow Europe to compete in a rapidly changing
world.
Adapted from London Comuniqué (2007) ‘Towards the European Higher Education Area: responding to challenges
in a globalised world’.
Knowledge

“Learning, the creation of knowledge,
occurs through the active extension and
grounding of ideas and experiences in
the external world and through internal
reflection about the attributes of these
experiences and ideas.”
(The italics are mine)
D. Kolb (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of learning and development,
Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs N.J.
Knowledge as CATALYST

Knowledge as SOLID FOUNDATION appears to be
static: ‘knowledge of history’, ‘subject knowledge’.

Knowledge is commonly combined with such
concepts as ‘skills’, ‘understanding’, ‘competence’.

Therefore, in EU policy, knowledge is seen as the
basis for developing practical skills.

A rather less static view of knowledge might be that
of CATALYST.
Knowledge as CATALYST

Knowledge as SOLID FOUNDATION appears to be
static: ‘knowledge of history’, ‘subject knowledge’.
 Knowledge
is commonly
combined with such
knowledge
as KNOWING
-STATIC
concepts as ‘skills’, ‘understanding’, ‘competence’.
knowledge combined with ACTIONS - DYNAMIC
 Therefore, in EU policy, knowledge is seen as the
basis for developing practical skills.

A rather less static view of knowledge might be that
of CATALYST.
Corpus data
… reported that pupils' knowledge of history is "patchy" and …
… teachers had little knowledge of children's abilities or …
… our very knowledgeable guide …
… and a young person's knowledge is often the most up to …
… to develop "essential knowledge, skills and understanding" …
… and historical knowledge pupils must accumulate …
… them to show their knowledge, skills and understanding …
… skills and subject knowledge that will help them to become …
… other professions, "new knowledge" is discovered all the …
… the classroom reach higher levels of knowledge and skills …
… essential to developing the "knowledge-driven economy“ …
Lifelong learning



Includes initial education, continuing professional
development, and post-retirement opportunities
for cultural enrichment.
Supporting all learners with the potential to benefit
both themselves and society through participating
in higher education.
Europe’s universities need to develop their
specific role as lifelong learning institutions
“forming a central pillar of the Europe of
Knowledge”.
Adapted from European Universities’ Charter on Lifelong Learning (2008)
Education as PROCESS




Inflexible
Long-term goals
Final evaluation
Clear distinction between
formal schooling and
professional training





Flexible
Short-term, attainable
goals
Continuous assessment
Lifelong process
Closely linked to the
needs of a complex,
modern society
Education as JOURNEY


“Destinations may be specified without
including an indication of the routes to be
followed.”
“The recent introduction of curriculum options
has changed the notion of a curriculum from
a straight pathway to a series of branches
which offer different learning routes to each
student.”
D. Hamilton (1990) Learning about Education: An unfinished curriculum, Open University Press, Milton Keynes.
Education as JOURNEY


“Destinations may be specified without
including an indication of the routes to be
followed.”
Education
is aintroduction
complex JOURNEY
where objectives
“The
recent
of curriculum
options
might be established, but learners can arrive at
has
changed the notion of a curriculum from
their destination via different pathways according
atostraight
pathway
a series of branches
their aptitudes
andtointerests.
which offer different learning routes to each
student.”
D. Hamilton (1990) Learning about Education: An unfinished curriculum, Open University Press, Milton Keynes.
Corpus data
References (HighLow)
Examples
way
pathway
path
track
route
road
journey
find ways to, be a way forward
career pathways, flexible pathways, customised pathways
follow the path, offer other paths
the tracking of, stay on track, to fast-track
work-based route, alternative routes to
along the road, roads leading to, to be at a crossroads
learning journey, reflective journey
Describing the JOURNEY
“Teachers, who focused on giving their disabled
students access to the general education curriculum,
guided them on their journey along the rough highway
of society. Teachers, who segregated their disabled
students in order to make them fit the school’s
bureaucratic structure, or because they believed that
all disabled students should follow the same path, or
to prepare them for a successful passage into
society, encouraged the disabled students to proceed
along the special lane leading to the segregated
world of disability. The teachers working for group
inclusion can be said, at best, to be trying to gain
their students a foothold on both roads. The students
heading for a nomadic life on the winding paths of
the real world had a variety of teachers, some of
whom tried to include them in general education
classes, others who closed the road to classroom
integration completely.”
Adapted, for conciseness, from D.S. Bjarnason (2003), British Education Index (online)
Describing the JOURNEY
“Teachers, who focused on giving their disabled
students access to the general education curriculum,
guided them on their journey along the rough highway
of society. Teachers, who segregated their disabled
students in order to make them fit the school’s
In this structure,
example the author
has takenthey believed that
bureaucratic
or because
an underlying
conceptual
metaphor
all disabled
students
should
follow the same path, or
to prepare
them itfor
a successful
passage into
and extended
in a markedly
overt
society,way.
encouraged the disabled students to proceed
along the special lane leading to the segregated
world of disability. The teachers working for group
inclusion can be said, at best, to be trying to gain
their students a foothold on both roads. The students
heading for a nomadic life on the winding paths of
the real world had a variety of teachers, some of
whom tried to include them in general education
classes, others who closed the road to classroom
integration completely.”
Adapted, for conciseness, from D.S. Bjarnason (2003), British Education Index (online)
Analysis
KEY CONCEPTS
ANALYSIS
to be guided on a journey
A journey is not always as smooth as we would wish it to be. In this case
the role of the teacher is redefined. Rather than teacher as a source of all
knowledge, the metaphor TEACHER AS CARER is implicit in guiding the
learner along a path.
gain a foothold on the road
The role of the teacher is to aid the learner in acquiring a sound basis for
achieving his/her aims in life.
rough highway
winding paths
close the road
The route which a learner has to take in order to achieve success is
insidious and full of hindrances, interludes and digressions, even to the
extent of interrupting the educational process.
follow a path
proceed along a lane
In order to achieve goals, the learner has to follow a pre-determined route
established by educational policy.
passage into society
head for a nomadic life
There can be a direct, planned pathway which leads to inclusion or a lack
of clearly defined strategies leading to exclusion.
6. Teachers and teaching

“He tries to give the class a good go, and we get
on really well with him. He knows his stuff. He
knows your weaknesses and your strengths, and
he’ll sit down and talk to you the whole lesson to
explain something. He’ll go round and you learn
more then. He’s a very good teacher.”
Secondary School pupil cited in M. Younger & M. Warrington (1999) ‘ “He’s such a nice man, but he’s so
boring, you really have to make a conscious effort to learn”: the views of Gemma, Daniel and their
contemporaries on teacher quality and effectiveness’ in Educational Review 51/3, pp. 231-243.
What students think …
A GOOD TEACHER IS …
N = 95/113
A FRIEND
42
A PARENT
16
A SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE
5
A GUIDE
3
A MODEL OR MORAL EXAMPLE
3
A GARDENER
3
AN ACTOR
2
A salesman, a gold digger, a UFO …
-
Survey of 113 Chinese students in M. Cortazzi & L. Jin (1999) ‘Bridges to learning: Metaphors of teaching, learning
and language’ in L. Cameron & G. Low (eds) op. cit.
What students think …
A GOOD TEACHER IS …
N = 95/113
A FRIEND
42
A PARENT
16
“She has been horrified by the amount of work on the course (most
of it pointless
from what I can see) and by how much teaching
is like
A SOURCE
OF KNOWLEDGE
5
‘being on stage all day’ .”
A GUIDE
3
Elly, ‘Prospective student teachers forum’, Times Educational
A MODEL
OR MORAL
EXAMPLE
3
Supplement
2004 (my
data)
A GARDENER
3
AN ACTOR
2
A salesman, a gold digger, a UFO …
-
Teacher as SUPPORT

In recent years there has been a move away from the
teacher seen as ‘authority’ or ‘source of knowledge’. The
use of terms such as ‘mentor’, ‘facilitator’, ‘counselor’,
‘tutor’, ‘coordinator’, ‘mediator’ guiding the learner along
the road to positive learning outcomes is becoming
increasingly common.
Role of the teacher




Absolute authority
Focus on end product
Infallible source of
knowledge
Ensures the attainment of
rigidly established
institutional goals





Guide
Focus on the individual
Facilitates the learning
process
Open to negotiation
Applies reflective practice
in planning and
operationalisation
Corpus data
… charitable
projects, including mentoring at a local primary school …
… Pupils get mentors, but it doesn't affect the rest of us because …
… Steve Williams is a learning mentor. At 42, it is his …
… taking part in a mentoring and buddying programme set up by …
… The mentors and mentees will meet for four hours a …
… teacher should be a mentor or a coach who facilitates the growth of …
… from school nurses to senior teaching staff to peer mentors. Responses …
… Each teacher tutors at least two subjects, at primary and secondary …
… at Oxford. After meeting tutors and students, and …
… their application - admission tutors can recognise exaggeration a …
… the local authority organised home tutoring for me …
… state schools in London have been tutored, up from 36% …
… from talking to a qualified counsellor to chatting …
… who facilitates the growth of the child's understanding …
… other out online. Mediators can give a gentle reminder that it's not …
… promoted to key stage 3 co-ordinator for her vision and innovative …
... team leaders who co-ordinate groups of markers …
… in his role as ICT co-ordinator in the classroom and at …
Teacher as …
Teacher roles (High  Low)
support
mentor
tutor
co-ordinator
guide
counselor
facilitator
mediator
moderator
friend
peer
buddy
Teacher as GUIDE
Provides support for learners
 Facilitates the learning process
 Efficient organiser and coordinator

7. Learners and learning

“Human beings are unique among all living
organisms in that their primary adaptive
specialisation lies not in some particular physical
form or skill or fit in an ecological niche, but rather in
identification with the process of adaptation itself - the
process of learning. We are thus the learning
species, and our survival depends on our ability to
adapt not only in the reactive sense of fitting into the
psychological and social world, but in the proactive
sense of creating and shaping those worlds.”
(The italics are mine)
D. Kolb (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of learning and development,
Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs N.J.
7. Learners and learning

“Human beings are unique among all living
organisms in that their primary adaptive
specialisation lies not in some particular physical
form or skill Learning
or fit in anisecological
niche, but rather in
ADAPTATION
identification with the process of adaptation itself - the
LearningWe
is DOING
process of learning.
are thus the learning
species, and our survival depends on our ability to
adapt not only in the reactive sense of fitting into the
psychological and social world, but in the proactive
sense of creating and shaping those worlds.”
Learning as CYCLE
The self-regulatory learning cycle
FORETHOUGHT
VOLITIONAL
CONTROL
LEARNER
AUTONOMY
SELF-REFLECTION
B.J. Zimmerman (1998) ‘Developing self-fulfilling cycles of academic regulation: an analysis of exemplary
instructional models’ in D.H. Schunk & B.J. Zimmerman (eds) Self-Regulated Learning: From teaching to selfregulated practice, Guilford Press, New York.
Learner as DECISION MAKER




Learners need to take responsibility for their own growth.
They need to think critically.
They have to acquire the skills necessary to manage and
assimilate large quantities of information.
They need technical skills to deal with rapidly evolving
technology.
Role of the learner
Learning in modern society
PLANNING FURTHER
ACTION
ACQUISITION OF
INFORMATION
LEARNER AS
RESOURCE
FOR THE
COMMUNITY
CREATION OF
KNOWLEDGE BASE
Corpus data
… learning is consolidated through breaks and sleep …
… teaching, learning and learner support, and development …
… the Learning and Skills Council preferred instead to believe a …
… that they are taking part in some sort of learning, or who have …
… individuals investing in the bulk of other learning opportunities …
… an education based on less testing and more on learning to think …
… says he learns as much from his students as they do from him …
… staff to let the kids take responsibility for their own learning. …
… time after school to be able to reflect on the day's learning …
… but as part of a themed learning system her school has adopted …
… using to engage children in learning everything from maths to drama …
… the chance to learn by doing rather than just by reading and …
… to be a profession that is continually learning and developing and …
… grammar schools and "traditional", fact-based learning …
… subjects, and they're so good at relating learning to real life …
… Studying online offers a more flexible style of learning, which …
… pupils will soon only be learning from digital texts …
… would estimate that 20% of learning resources delivered to primary …
… at least £2bn has been invested in learning technology …
Learning is ACTION
Learning needs to be stimulated
 Learning requires responsibility
 Learning needs to be consolidated
 Learning is a continuous process
 Learning should be related to real life
 Learning needs resources

8. New Technologies

“Michael Moore’s theory of ‘transactional distance’ suggests that the
‘distance’ in the term ‘distance education’ refers to a distance that is more
than a merely geographic separation of learners and teachers. Rather it is
a “distance of understandings and perceptions, caused in part by the
geographic distance, that has to be overcome by teachers, learners and
educational organisations if effective, deliberate, planned learning is to
occur”. This space, or interval, between the teacher and learner(s) may be
seen as an important feature of all educational ‘transactions’. In a
classroom situation, for example, there will be a metaphorical ‘distance’
between the understandings and perceptions of the teacher and those of
the learner(s) even though they are proximate geographically. In distance
education contexts, however, the transactional ‘distance’ between teacher
and learner is so significant that it affects the educational process in major
ways.
Cited in Barrett and Lalley (1996) ‘Distance education in the Virtual Age: Supporting students with new
information technologies’ in N. Hedge (ed) Going the Distance: Teaching, learning and researching in
distance education, USDE, Sheffield.
Key concepts
Transactional distance
 Geographic distance
 Conceptual/psychological
distance

Very distant learning
Technology is ISOLATION
The term ‘distance’ implies a degree of
isolation. It is for this reason that new
terms have been introduced, such as ‘elearning’.
 However, it is not only the terminology
but our approach to employing New
Technologies in education that need to
undergo a constant evolution.

Analysis

“Much of the literature designed to inform the role of the
tutor in distance learning tends to be prescriptive rather
than analytical. It suggests a content based approach to
teaching and learning with the course materials forming
the main, unassailable vehicle for the passing on of a
particular body of knowledge. This is curious because
many distance learning course guides for students stress
the importance of engaging critically with the materials
and include opportunities and encouragement for
students to carry out their own enquiries.”
F. Armstrong (1996) ‘Teaching and learning at a distance: Redefining the role of the teacher’ in N. Hedge (ed) op. cit.
Worldwide communication
New Technologies as NETWORK

New Technologies provide immense opportunities for
communicating worldwide in real time.

The Internet is an endless source of information.
Corpus data
…
…
…
…
…
…
…
…
…
…
…
…
…
…
…
…
…
each other when discussing coursework on social networking sites …
a national network of local authority-based groups and, where …
and graduate homes have other networks to fall back on when the …
the important role that social networking and other Web 2.0 systems …
by those who have money, the social networks to access good tutors …
a better teacher, and there is a fantastic support network in our …
traditionally large network of community, voluntary and sporting …
transmit lessons to the school computer network to monitor the …
of children are using social networking sites …
the current social networking trend could have a negative impact on …
But online networking isn't necessarily "bad", says children's …
charity the NSPCC. Safe social networking sites can be a positive …
report on the impact of social networks last year, 99% of children …
opportunity to network with children in other parts of the world …
learn about blogging and social networking sites such as Twitter …
If you have a social networking account, do not 'friend' pupils …
through text messages, emails and social networking sites …
Network as COMMUNITY




Storing information
Accessing information
Exchanging information/knowledge
Creating an interface between interactive/multimedia
materials and participants.
Teacher as MEDIATOR




Teachers have a multiple role in e-learning: expert in
their field, organisation of resources and materials,
evaluation of learners’ progress.
They need to be able to manage, experiment and
constantly update technical resources for teaching.
They are responsible for creating a close-knit learning
community.
They should accept that the educational process is
negotiable.
Technology as THRESHOLD

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Creation of a learning community.
More openness to interdisciplinary approaches.
Access to an immense variety of knowledge sources.
Interactive resources which allow learners to reflect
constantly on their progress and their objectives.
Opportunity to relate coursework to the outside world.
Conclusion
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the
lighting of a fire”
(W.B. Yeats 1865-1939)
WELCOME TO
Language Futures : Languages
in Higher Education 2012
5th & 6th July 2012
Edinburgh
#LLASconf2012
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Metaphor in the Language of Education