Metaphors for Effective Thinking
Daniel D. Wheeler University of Cincinnati
All of the authors included in this book are committed to the idea that education can help people become more effective thinkers. We believe that appropriate instruction in school can help people become more effective in their everyday lives. We think that by focusing on decision making, educators can help adolescents make the transition to adult maturity.
Our work on decision making is part of a larger trend toward developing educational programs with general cognitive goals. Nickerson, Perkins, and Smith ( 1985), in their extensive survey of approaches to teaching thinking, found a wide variety of programs with diverse goals expressed in terms of reasoning, creativity, heuristics, and so forth. My goal in this chapter is to explore the diversity of interpretations of effective thinking in a way that links conceptualizations of decision making to other ways of understanding the situations facing adolescents. I will discuss four approaches, each of which embodies a metaphorical way of understanding situations in life. The dominant metaphorical frames for conceptualizing effective thinking have been problem solving and decision making. Two newer frames are design and improvisation.
I also hope to increase diversity in the ways we think about effective thinking. I see diversity as healthy. One way of looking at the issue is that we are teaching tools for thought. We would never expect one kind of hammer to be best for everyone. A carpenter's hammer has a claw for pulling