Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Fantasy, Vision, and Metaphor-Three Tracks to Teachers' Minds

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Fantasy, Vision, and Metaphor-Three Tracks to Teachers' Minds

Article excerpt

This paper explores how the three concepts of vision, metaphor, and fantasy serve educational research for a better understanding of teachers' minds regarding educational issues. Drawing upon data based on a review of the literature, the following has been found: a semantic comparison showed that the concepts were similar in their abilities to create visual images and function as communication media, but differed in origin, time orientation, reality reflection, activity orientation, and consensus creation. Empirical findings demonstrated the importance of question formulation, the researcher's position, and the scope of the study. In conclusion, the paper proposes how the different concepts might help in designing improved research and better educational usage of the concepts. Key Words: Educational Fantasy, Vision, Metaphor, Teachers' Minds, and Open Coding


The art of teaching attracts researchers to better understand its variables and intertwined connections. There is, however, a consensus that a teacher's mind is one of the main variables in the puzzling phenomenon of teaching (Munby, Russell, & Martin, 2001). According to Feuerstein, Tannenbaum, and Klein (1991), for example, teaching and learning are not separate actions, but learning is a process mediated by the teacher or parents at an early age. Through intentional mutuality, that is, providing meaning and transcendency explanations, the teacher creates some order in the phenomena students encounter, and provides tools for discovering connection and regularity in the world (Feuerstein et al.). Other research findings support this idea by showing that the ways chosen by teachers to explain and interpret knowledge affect students' learning (Munby & Russell, 1990, 1994), their achievements (Yair, 1997), and even their acquisition of gender and social roles (Spade, 2001).

The growing body of literature dealing with the teacher's mind and knowledge transmission does not come up with any simple answers regarding what this connection is, how it is developed, sustained, changed, and what effects it has on teaching (Munby et al., 2001). At the same time, a variety of concepts have been used to study the teacher's mind, including mental models (Strauss & Shilony, 1994), conceptual maps (Yukhnovetsky & Hoz, 2001), beliefs (Pajares, 1992), dreams (Strauch & Lederbogen, 1999), subject matter knowledge (Schwab, 1978), problem- solving, decision-making, beliefs, attitudes, basic assumptions, dispositions (Munby et al.), metaphors (Inbar, 1996; Munby, 1986; Munby & Russell, 1990), visions (Hammerness, 2001), and fantasy (Tubin, 2004).

The last three concepts; fantasy, vision, and metaphor are of special interest for me for two reasons: their relevance to my work and their particular semantic meaning.


As a researcher, lecturer, and educational consultant, I meet these concepts when dealing with the subject of innovative schools. As an educational consultant I have found that when I ask teachers and principals about their educational vision, they usually provide me with a mixture of metaphors, cliches, and dull visions. As a lecturer at principal training courses, I try to arouse my students' interest in the subject of innovative schools by asking them to fantasise about their "dream school." As a didactic activity it works very well, but as a researcher their answers leave me wondering what it was that they actually gave me: Vision? Fantasy? Metaphor?

In the role of a researcher I face considerable ambiguity regarding the concepts' usage and meaning in the educational literature. Some researchers worked within the positivist paradigm, trying to explain teachers' metaphors by context and situations (Ben-Peretz, Mendelson, & Kron, 2003; Inbar, 1996). Others use the interpretive approach, trying to discover the meaning teachers give to educational situations by their visions and fantasies (Hammerness, 2001; Tubin, 2004). …

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