ED 643 Syllabus (Fall 2021)

ED 643 The Whole Child: Metaphors of Learning and Development

Fall Session 2021

Instructor: Dr. Dana Ulveland

Office: ED 227

e-mail: ulvelad@wou.edu


Office Hours:

By arrangement


Course Description

Metaphors, frames, and narratives that bring meaning to schooling and education will be examined as they apply to our schooling environments. The interrelationship among these metaphors, and how they affect instructional processes, such as teaching, learning, and lesson planning, will be a primary focus for this course.
Credits: 3


In Plain Speak or ‘What this course description means to me.’

I suppose much of the course description comes down to this: If everyone was happy with what was taking place in schools, we probably wouldn’t be having any of the academic conversations we do. This is not to say that there aren’t great schools. There are. And there are great teachers, and great students, and great content, and great successes. I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in school. And I am thankful that my children have had so many fabulous teachers. But academe is built around the idea that things might be better.

Better in what way? We all have our own stories. For example, I spent twelve years taking math classes prior to entering my first university math class. For me, the time spent didn’t seem to be a reasonable indicator of what I should have known. In other words, I should have known a lot more. Why is that?

Also, why is it that I had a student in my fifth-grade class who, if given the opportunity, would have been able to take the engine out of my truck while it was parked in the parking lot, and then put it back together in running condition. And yet this young man was made to feel like a fool and a failure in school. Why is that?

Also, why is it that many teachers are made to feel like failures if they happen to have conditions so challenging that no one could possibly succeed in the environment in which they are placed? Why is that?

Are we stuck in a rut? Do we continue to do the same sorts of things over and over again? Is it possible that more-of-the-same, faster, isn’t really addressing the problems? Maybe.

But how do we begin to get clear on what is really going on? You have heard of the saying, it wasn’t the fish that invented water. In many ways, we don’t even see or question deeply that which is going on around us in schools. Our parents were taught in a particular way; we were taught in a particular way; and, we teach students in a particular way. How do we ‘see’ that ‘way’? Well, one way is to analyze the language we use in hopes that it will reveal something to us that we might not be aware of. That’s why the study of metaphors, frames, and narratives (discourse) is so valuable.

So, this is a class where we spend time thinking about what we do in schools. So, you might ask, where do metaphors come into this? Examining the schooling discourse often reveals what is shaping our thinking and acting. We find out that there are a lot of stories that talk about teachers, schools, students, education, administration, procedures, management, success, failure, grading . . . . I could go on and on. And these stories — these narratives — not only speak to explicit beliefs, but they also reveal implicit beliefs.

One of the interesting things for graduate-thinkers like ourselves is that we often hear conflicting stories about the same thing. What’s up with that? Furthermore, if the person telling the story has more influence over someone telling an alternative rendition, that alternative rendition might be obscured.

This is interesting stuff. We start unraveling some of these stories, or narratives, look at the language being used, and gain some insight into why things are the way they are in schools.

When we start to listen carefully, when we start to read carefully, we can perceive how others think and act. We can get a better sense as to why we think and act the way we do. Furthermore, we can find ways to make changes that might be beneficial to our students and to ourselves.


Course Objectives

Ever wonder where course objectives come from? Ever wonder why every syllabus you get has some form of course objective? Well, it has a lot to do with the industrial revolution and the narratives associated with factories. But since we aren’t quite there in our thinking, I better put some objectives in here.


A. Understand the difference between schooling and education by analyzing the language, metaphors, and narratives that substantiate different endeavors.
 This includes developing a familiarity with how students learn and how teachers teach.

B. Understand how metaphors and narratives have contributed to your own educational beliefs.

C. Understand how your own personal narratives can impact the classroom climate and the school community.

D. Become familiar with the language and concepts used in the teaching profession.

E. Have some understanding of where our metaphors come from.

F. Have a better idea as to how schools are influenced by equity issues (social, gender, cultural, economic, racial and ethnic differences) and language domains.


Now, I do have more objectives, but these are a bit more difficult to measure. As we all know, objectives should be measurable — shouldn’t they? I mean, isn’t measurement an important frame (narrative) in our schooling lives. Let’s change the frame for a moment and use some objectives that might provide a different perspective on schooling:

To find joy in our work.

To increase our capacity to learn.

To increase our confidence in our ability to learn.

To develop our ability to inquire and wonder.

To recognize our own uniqueness as learners.

To try to sense and understand the universals in the human condition ultimately enhancing our ability to draw closer to other people.

I like this second set of objectives. I get these from Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner as shared in their book Teaching as a Subversive Activity.

Why Question and Wonder? Because this is graduate work.

We should make an important distinction between undergraduate and graduate work. What we do in this class is a bit different from undergraduate classes. Much of what we do in this class makes sense when we keep in mind that we are doing “graduate” work. If this is one of your first graduate classes it is worth recognizing that the type of work we do in graduate classes is often very different from what we do in undergraduate classes. I am sure you know this, but it is worth reminding ourselves of the difference. As an undergraduate, especially in a teaching licensure program, we have others tell us what we need to do to work well in a school classroom or a school system. As undergraduate students, we accept that others know what they are talking about and we learn what we can from them. As an undergraduate, we learn as much as we can to get by and do well in the workplace. Of course, there are many graduate classes that we take for the purpose of learning how to function in the school system. So there are two sides to graduate work — especially when you are a graduate student in a licensure program.

We might think of graduate school as having two components: 1) learning and adopting what others know; and, 2) developing new insights. It is in the development of new insights that we focus on in this class. Much of the responsibility of the graduate student is to develop new knowledge–original work–original thinking. I like to think of this as developing a synoptic view that contributes to understanding. I will talk more about this later.

As an undergraduate, you learn what is already known. As a graduate student, there is an expectation to create new and original knowledge. I would emphasize ‘understanding’ rather than ‘knowledge’. You work to reveal that which may not yet be understandable. I will also talk about this in greater detail.


Educator Diversity Outcomes

It is important to me, and I hope important to you, that we work to affirm diversity in all its forms. I think we should recognize and accept the diversity in others, as well, and being clearer on each of our own aspects of diversity.

I don’t know about you, but I think schools can be very discriminatory places–especially if someone is being discriminated against. That is not right. I have taught in schools for years–from second graders to adults — and I certainly didn’t mean to be discriminatory. And I don’t think other teachers and administrators mean to discriminate. But it can be argued that sometimes schools are designed to be discriminatory or at least inadvertently designed to be discriminatory. Perhaps our study of language will reveal something about that.

Now in hindsight, I have, I am sorry to say, been discriminated against as a student. And in hindsight, I have, I am sorry to say, discriminated against students by the teaching practices I have incorporated. I have, I am sorry to say, seen, as a classroom observer, numerous accounts of discrimination. What kind of discrimination you might ask? Anytime students are oppressed, given the impression that they are stupid, belittled, or expected to do mindless unreasonable tasks–that is discrimination. Thus, in our attempt to broaden our worldview and embrace multicultural/multi-humanistic ideas, we will critique schooling when it is oppressive. And I hope we will embrace schooling when it is liberatory. Hopefully, we will reveal discriminatory language and metaphors and challenge practices that oppress those who find themselves falling outside the bounds of the dominant culture. And we will uphold practices that enhance students’ acceptance and engagement. We will challenge practices that oppress students and teachers. And we will try to think of ways to change practices to make schooling a better place for all of us. By engaging in ontological questions (questions that reveal intelligibility) we come to understand how the system of schooling has been used as a vehicle of both oppression and liberation. We will find those perspectives in our language.


Required Evidence Showing That Objectives Have Been Met

Two Presentations (2 X 30 = 60%)

We will be meeting on two different Saturdays this term. On each Saturday you will give a short presentation on an analysis of metaphors, language, or narratives. You will choose a metaphor, frame, or narrative that interests you — perhaps within your subject area specialty.

Unfortunately, given the amount of time we have, your presentation will be short — 10 minutes. You could think of it as a short TED talk.

I will be asking that your presentation consists of the following:

Describe the metaphor, frame, or narrative you are exploring.

Describe the context — where it comes from, what brings it into being, its possible history.

State what you perceive to be the implications of incorporating this language (metaphor, frame, discourse, narrative) into our schooling environments.

Does the metaphor (language) accurately represent what is best for education?

What might a change of metaphor mean? Is it possible? Would a change be worth the effort? Would a change lead to positive repercussions? How would you initiate a change?

I will speak more about the presentations in the upcoming lectures.

Response Questions (40%)

Each week I ask that you respond to questions regarding the content at hand. This helps me know if I am making myself clear. It helps me know what I can do better.

I will ask that you email me your responses to questions on three different occasions.


Final Grade Assignment

A (96 →100)

A- (91 → 95)

B+ (86 → 90)

B (81→ 85)

B- (76 → 80)

C+ (71 → 75)

C (65 → 70)

C- (60 → 64)

D (< 59)



Required (If possible)

No text required


Tentative Schedule Outline (Content will change. I can’t help it. Sometimes I want to share things that seem to come out of nowhere.)


Tentative Course Schedule

 Click on the “Week One” text below to access the first set of lecture notes for Week 1 🙂

Week One (Monday, September 27) 


Three Branches of Government

Education Defined

Understanding Understanding

Context Confers Meaning

Bill and Mrs. Jones

Metaphors and Narratives

Week Two (Monday, October 4)

The Cup and the Fork

George Lakoff

Lera Boroditsky

Chimananda Ngozi Adichie

Week Three (Monday, October 11)

For everything you gain there’s something lost

Barry Schwartz



Scientific Management

Frederick Winslow Taylor


Efficiency: The Gilbreths


Saturday Session (Saturday, October 16th Richard Woodcock Ed Center 107)

**************** Please email me your responses from sessions 1, 2 and 3 when you are finished. ******************


Week Four (Monday, October 18)

The Factory / Assembly Line Model


Week Five (Monday, October 25)

Mechanical Time — Mechanical Body

Week Six (Monday, November 1)

Spectator View

Biological Bodies — Bodily Considerations

Week Seven (Monday, November 8)

**************** Please try to email me your responses from sessions 4, 5 &6  any time this week ******************

Sensing Bodies

Week Eight (Monday, November 15)

The Efficient Cause




Week Nine (Saturday, November 20): No Online Lecture (Saturday meeting)

Saturday Session (Saturday, November 20th Richard Woodcock Ed Center 107)

Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 25th)


Week Ten (Monday, November 29)

A bit of a review

Teaching Belief Statement / Mission Statement


Week Eleven Final Responses Due (Monday, December 6)

**************** Please email me your final set of responses ******************


Accommodations: WOU values diversity and inclusion; we are committed to fostering full participation for all students. Please notify your instructor if there are aspects of the instruction or design resulting in barriers to your participation.

Disability-related accommodations are determined through the Office of Disability Services (ODS). If you, as a student, believe you may be eligible for disability-related accommodations please contact ODS, they would be happy to work with you. ODS notifies students and faculty members of approved academic accommodations and coordinates the implementation of accommodations. Academic Programs Services Center (APSC) 405
503-838-8250 (voice)  https://wou.edu/disabilityservices/ods@wou.edu

Respect: In this class, the expectation is of mutual respect. Western Oregon University is an inclusive community that celebrates diversity and strives to reflect the diversity of our pluralistic society in our faculty, staff and students. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, class, linguistic background, religion, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, or physical ability. In this class the goal is to establish an environment that values and nurtures individual and group differences and encourages engagement and interaction. Understanding and respecting multiple experiences and perspectives will serve to challenge and stimulate all of us to learn about others, about the larger world and about ourselves. By promoting diversity and intellectual exchange, we will not only mirror society as it is, but also model society as it should and can be.

Academic Integrity: In any academic work — especially graduate work — it is important that the work you do is your own. It is also important that you give credit to others when you make reference to their ideas or their published work. This level of honesty places you ‘into’ a community of academics who work together to bring about a deeper understanding and a greater awareness of the world around us.

DISABILITY ACCOMMODATIONS: If you have a documented disability that may require assistance, you will need to contact the Office of Disabilities Services (ODS) for coordination in your academic accommodations. The ODS is located in the Academic Programs and Support Center (APSC) Suite 405. The phone/TTY is (503) 838-8250.

Military Service Statement: Veterans and active duty military personnel with special circumstances are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor.

Student Success Specialist: Students in this class may be referred to the WOU Student Success Specialist (SSS) if the instructor determines their performance in the class is placing them at academic risk. The SSS will offer to work with referred students to address issues and develop a student success strategy. Irrespective of whether a referral has or has not been made, you are ultimately responsible for tracking your own progress in this course.

WOU Writing Center: If you feel you need additional assistance with your writing, I encourage you to take advantage of the writing center. Help is available. For further information go to: www.wou.edu/writingcenter.


Up-to-Date COVID-19 Information

COVID-19 is an ongoing, dynamic situation that may change during any given term, leading to changes in rules and guidance. Find up-to-date information at: Western Oregon University: wou.edu/coronavirus,   Oregon Health Authority: govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19,     CDC: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov

Vaccinations: All students who take in-person classes or who will spend time on campus are required to be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus or submit an exemption before the start of classes. Please contact the Student Health and Counseling Center (SHCC; 503-838-8313, health@wou.edu) if you have questions about how to submit proof of vaccination or claim an exemption. Further instructions can be found on SHCC’s website at www.wou.edu/health.

Vaccination against COVID-19 remains one of the best ways to protect your health and the health of our community. At least one vaccine has now received full approval by the FDA. For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, including how you can get vaccinated, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/vaccine-benefits.html

Masks and Face Coverings 

The purpose of WOU’s Mask Policy (https://www2.wou.edu/nora/policy.entry.view_policy/?ppolicyid=1077) is to promote the health and safety of students, staff, faculty and the broader community. The State of Oregon and Western Oregon University require that masks or face coverings be worn when indoors on campus (Monmouth and Salem), except when you are actively eating, drinking or engaged in public speaking. If you are alone in an enclosed room (i.e., with four walls, ceiling and a closed door), you can remove your mask. Masks or face coverings should be worn in combination with other measures, such as physical distancing, proper handwashing and vaccinations. Masks or face coverings are also required outdoors, if physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Be prepared for the possibility of remote delivery

Due to ever-changing conditions with COVID-19, students and faculty should be prepared for the possibility that fully in-person and hybrid courses might be switched to remote delivery at any time.


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