n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Opvattings oor onderwysverandering soos weerspieël in die metaforiese uitdrukkings van onderwysers

Volume 47, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


Tot betreklik onlangs is aanvaar dat 'n metafoor 'n vorm van beeldspraak is wat uitsluitlik deur woordkunstenaars vir estetiese effek aangewend word. Gedurende die jongste tyd het kognitieflinguistiese navorsers egter tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat 'n metafoor eerder dui op 'n besondere verwoording van menslike denke en beredenering. Hiervolgens word metafore deur alle taalgebruikers aangewend om abstrakte begrippe verstaanbaar te maak. Tydens die navorsing waaroor daar in hierdie artikel verslag gedoen word, is die metafore wat sekere onderwysers gebruik het om hulle opvattings oor onderwysverandering te verduidelik, ontleed. Transkripsies van onderhoude wat met onderwysers gevoer is, is gebruik om vas te stel watter soort metafore onderwysers wat onderskeidelik sterk betrokke, matig betrokke of onbetrokke was by onderwysverandering, gebruik het om hulle standpunte onder woorde te bring. Die frekwensie van metafoorgebruik, verskille tussen die metafore van Afrikaans- en Engelssprekende respondente, die verskillende bron- en teikendomeine wat ter sprake gekom het en die aangeleenthede wat die respondente deur middel van metafore probeer verhelder het, is ondersoek. Daar word, onder meer, tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat (1) onderwysers wat sterk betrokke was by verandering, onderwysverandering nie noodwendig as positief beleef het nie, (2) respondente gevoel het hulle word deur kragte sterker as hulself in 'n bepaalde rigting gedwing, en (3) dat negatiewe gevoelens jeens verandering dikwels dui op kommer oor die invloed daarvan op hulle werksomstandighede eerder as op 'n negatiwiteit oor die verandering in sigself.

The most common conception of a metaphor is that it is a figure of speech, employed by poets, mainly for aesthetic effect, and comprising a comparison between two unlike entities. It is typically viewed as a characteristic of language alone. However, over the past number of decades, researchers in the field of cognitive linguistics have concluded that metaphor is a many-sided phenomenon involving, inter alia, a specific mental mapping that governs everyday thought and language in all respects. According to this view, metaphors are utilised by all speakers of a particular language with the objective of explaining complex and abstract concepts.
In 2004 a large-scale international investigation by the Michigan-based Consortium for Cross-Cultural Research in Education was concluded with the publication of the book, , under the editorship of Poppleton and Williamson. Amongst other things, this investigation included individual interviews with 550 teachers from 9 different countries, including South Africa. During the interviews and by means of an open-ended questionnaire, teachers were requested to respond to changes in their lives as educators and to draw conclusions concerning their respective roles of innovation, restructuring and reform in different contexts.
During the analysis of the research data with a view to the publication of the above-mentioned book, the researchers noticed how often respondents attempted to make their views clear by using metaphors. It was therefore decided, as an additional research project, to take some of the assumptions underlying the publications of Lakoff and Johnson (1980) and Kövecses (2002) concerning the nature and functioning of metaphors, as a point of departure and to revisit and re-investigate the data of the original research project. It seemed as though such an investigation could possibly yield even more meaningful results than already obtained at that stage. The representatives of six countries (including South Africa) took part in this exercise and, in fact, made interesting, additional discoveries.
This article deals with the research results of the re-directed analysis of the data from the earlier investigation. However, these results only have a bearing on the South African section of the investigation (the results from the comparative, six-country study were reported and are still to be reported elsewhere). The South African section of the study involved 37 teachers, representative of the general population of South African secondary school teachers in terms of ethnicity, gender, age, post level and teaching experience. The transcriptions of the interviews conducted with these respondents were used to identify and analyse the metaphors utilised by teachers with a high, medium and low involvement in change respectively. In this article the frequency of metaphor usage, differences between English and Afrikaans speaking respondents as far as metaphorical expressions are concerned, the various source and target domains which constituted part of the teachers' body of metaphors, and the issues which prompted respondents to use metaphors in their explanations of matters related to change, are briefly discussed.
Some of the findings and conclusions arrived at, are the following: (1) a relatively large number of teachers that were regarded as strongly involved in educational change, did not necessarily experience change as positive, (2) approximately two-thirds of all the metaphors utilised by the respondents were characterised by their negative inclination, (3) it appears as though Afrikaans speaking respondents' experience of change was significantly different from that of their English speaking colleagues, (4) respondents held the opinion that they were compelled by forces stronger than themselves to bring about certain changes, (5) negative feelings regarding change often indicated a concern about the influence of change on the teachers' occupational environment and status rather than a negativity concerning the phenomenon of change itself. From a methodological point of view, the results of this study (which focused on the respondents' language of change) to a large extent corresponded with those of the previous international study which employed a mix of (other) quantitative and qualitative research strategies, as far as South Africa is concerned. In addition to confirming the results obtained in the initial investigation, this also seems to indicate that an analysis of metaphors can be regarded as a trustworthy research technique.

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