Education Letter to the Editor

Are We Entering an Era Without Metaphors?

September 22, 2004 1 min read

To the Editor:

After reading “The Tales We Tell Ourselves” (Commentary, Sept. 1, 2004), I was struck by the thought that its message could well be completely obscure to mid-21st-century readers. This is because James Harvey and Robert H. Koff crafted the essay relying heavily on metaphor as both a topic and a vehicle to make their point.

As educators strive to make schools responsive to the dictates of the No Child Left Behind Act, such perceived frivolities as teaching the use of figurative language in any sustained way will necessarily become all but extinct. The use of metaphor presumes the ability to think imaginatively, a presumption that could be pre-empted by the ubiquitous incursion of the three A’s of schooling in the 21st century: assessment, accountability, and adequate yearly progress.

The question may not be what metaphors the nation embraces when it thinks about its schools, but whether or not a metaphor will be recognized as such. Hope does, however, spring eternal (metaphorically, of course).

Marilyn Murphy

Temple University

Philadelphia, Pa.