Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton July 2, 2016

Seeing through the metaphor: The OECD quality toolbox for early childhood

Sandy Farquhar and Peter Fitzsimons
From the journal Semiotica

Abstract

This paper explores the idea of metaphor as a persuasive device, using as an example a recent OECD publication purporting to be a quality toolbox for early childhood education and care. Leaving aside the problematic notion of quality, we argue that there is a serious problem with the idea of education as something that can be done with a toolbox, particularly in the formative stages of young children’s education. We suggest that the OECD selection of the toolbox as a metaphor is a way of inserting international economic imperatives into local government education policy, in ways that the citizenry is not aware of. As with any metaphor for education, the selection highlights some aspects while hiding others, a concealment that can’t be exposed by intensifying one’s gaze without a change in perspective. To examine the extent of what remains hidden by the toolbox, we engage in creative play with some different metaphors for education, arguing that particular metaphors may serve to obfuscate rather than clarify, an artifice that is not acceptable from a body as influential and far-reaching as the OECD.

References

Bergmann, Merrie. 1982. Metaphorical assertions. Philosophical Review 91(2). 229–245.10.2307/2184628Search in Google Scholar

Dahlberg, Gunilla, Peter Moss & Alan Pence. 1999. Beyond quality in early childhood education and care: Postmodern perspectives. London: Falmer.Search in Google Scholar

Davidson, Donald. 1978. What metaphors mean. Critical Inquiry 5(1). 31–47.10.1093/0199246297.003.0017Search in Google Scholar

Dewey, John. 1916. Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education. New York: Macmillan.Search in Google Scholar

Gibbs, Raymond W. Jr. 1999. Taking metaphor out of our heads and putting it into the cultural world. In Raymond W. Gibbs & Gerard J. Steen (eds.), Metaphor in cognitive linguistics, 145–166. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/cilt.175.09gibSearch in Google Scholar

Hart, Christopher. 2008. Critical discourse analysis and metaphor: Toward a theoretical framework. Critical Discourse Studies 5(2). 91–106.10.1080/17405900801990058Search in Google Scholar

Heidegger, Martin. 1977. The question concerning technology and other essays. New York: Harper & Row.Search in Google Scholar

Hodge, Robert & Gunther Kress. 1988. Social semiotics. Cambridge: Polity.Search in Google Scholar

Lakoff, George & Mark Johnson. 2003 [1980]. Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.10.7208/chicago/9780226470993.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Musolff, Andreas. 2012. The study of metaphor as part of critical discourse analysis. Critical Discourse Studies 9(3). 301–310.10.1080/17405904.2012.688300Search in Google Scholar

Nietzsche, Friedrich. 1982. Thus spoke Zarathustra. In Walter Kaufmann (ed.), The portable Nietzsche, 103–439. New York: Viking Penguin.Search in Google Scholar

Nietzsche, Friedrich. 1990. On truth and lies in a nonmoral sense. In Daniel Breazeale (ed.), Philosophy and truth, selections from Nietzsche’s notebooks of the early 1870’s. London: Humanities Paperback Library.Search in Google Scholar

OECD. 2001. Starting strong I. Early childhood education and care. Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.Search in Google Scholar

OECD. 2006. Starting strong II. Early childhood education and care. Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.Search in Google Scholar

OECD. 2012. Starting strong III: A quality toolbox for early childhood education and care. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264176690-en (accessed 23 July 2013).10.1787/9789264176690-enSearch in Google Scholar

OECD. 2013a. About the OECD. http://www.oecd.org/about/ (accessed 23 July 2013).Search in Google Scholar

OECD. 2013b. Quality matters in early childhood education and care. http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/quality-matters-in-early-childhood-and-education_22269673 (accessed 20 July 2013).Search in Google Scholar

Ricoeur, Paul. 1977. The rule of metaphor. Toronto: University of Toronto.Search in Google Scholar

Ricoeur, Paul. 1991. Word, polysemy, metaphor: Creativity in language. In Mario J. Valdés (ed.), A Ricoeur reader: Reflection and imagination, 64–85. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Search in Google Scholar

Steen, Gerard. 2011. The contemporary theory of metaphor – now new and improved! Review of Cognitive Linguistics 9(1). 26–64.10.1075/bct.56.03steSearch in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2016-7-2
Published in Print: 2016-9-1

©2016 by De Gruyter Mouton

Scroll Up Arrow