CFP: Look Both Ways: Narrative and Metaphor in Education

Look Both Ways: Narrative and Metaphor in Education: a Conference –  VU University, Amsterdam  to be held  30 March to 1 April 2017

Over the last 30 years, educationists have drawn increasingly on insights from philosophy, psychology, anthropology, cognitive science and linguistics to examine the roles played by narrative and metaphor in every domain of educational theory and practice. The narrative and metaphor perspectives have, however, mostly been used separately and opportunities for researchers and educators to meet and share their ideas are rare. This conference takes up the challenge of bringing educationists who have employed the narrative lens into conversation with those who have employed the metaphor lens. It highlights the work of those few researchers who have demonstrated ‘binocular vision’ (that is, employed the two perspectives in combination) in their study of education. The implications of research for teaching and policy practice will be particularly emphasized. The result should be a fuller account than has previously been attempted of the intricate relations which operate at the nexus between narrative and metaphor in and of education.

There will be 6 keynote presentations, by scholars who have undertaken outstanding work on narrative and metaphor in educational theory or practice.:
Jean Clandinin, Vera Caine & Sean Lessard – University of Alberta, Canada
Martin Cortazzi – University of Warwick & Lixian Jin – De Montfort University, UK
Kieran Egan – Simon Fraser University, Canada
Michael Hanne – University of Auckland, New Zealand
Martijn Meeter – Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Niklas Pramling – University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Questions to be explored at the conference include:

  • What specific forms do metaphor and narrative take in the educational context (ranging from learning and teaching to policy making)? How are metaphor and narrative related? Are there subject areas in which metaphor is a more effective tool for thinking and others where narrative is more useful? How may the two devices best be used in combination?
  • How do educational practitioners use metaphor and narrative as strategies in teaching or learning? In what special ways may narrative and metaphor be employed in, e.g. teacher training, counselling, and the education of learners with special needs?
  • There has been much research on how shifts in metaphor may change our thinking. How can learners and other educational practitioners become aware of the advantages and disadvantages of using metaphor? Do we need to be equally aware of the importance of shifts in narrative?
  • How are questions of e.g. agency and power both highlighted and occluded by the narratives and metaphors most commonly used in contemporary educational discourse?
  • What particular narrative and metaphor issues arise around educational theory and practice in different cultures, including developing countries?
  • Has the introduction of digital technology influenced the way in which teachers and learners employ narrative and metaphor?
  • There has been much concern about how metaphors of ‘accounting’ and ‘the market’ have come to dominate contemporary policy discourse in education. How might fresh metaphor perspectives cause us to view the challenges in education differently, and how might fresh narrative perspectives assist us to envisage fresh solutions?
  • How are narrative and metaphor employed as research tools within the educational context?

Proposals for interactive paper sessions, posters and 75-minute workshops (with an applied focus) are invited from scholars and practitioners in every field of education. Presentations employing innovative or creative formats are particularly welcome and submissions by practising teachers are invited. Submission deadline: 14 October 2016

Registration: 1 October 2016 – 17 February 2017.


For further details, see the conference website at:

The conference will be organized from the Vrije Universiteit teacher training institute (at the Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences) in Amsterdam by a team of education, narrative and metaphor specialists and in collaboration with Metaphor Lab Amsterdam. It
 is the fourth in a series on the role of narrative and metaphor in different disciplines. The first, relating to medicine, was held at UC Berkeley in 2010. The second, relating to politics, was held at Claremont Graduate University in 2012. The third, relating to law, was held at Stanford Law School in early 2016.