Signs, symbols and metaphor: linking self with text in inquiry-based learning

R.E Deakin Crick, K. Grushka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The focus in this article is on the role of symbol and metaphor in the development of student self-awareness and engagement in the process of learning. It draws on a case-study which explored the process of an inquiry-based learning project in an Indigenous learning centre in a school in New South Wales, Australia. The data used for this article were taken from the first stage of the inquiry project – the construction of a shared language for learning. The article argues that developing a rich and local language for learning, that links to the collective consciousness of a community through metaphors and symbols, is a crucial prerequisite for inquiry-based learning. It reveals how the naming of native Australian animals as icons for learning power, the co-construction of a learning story and the creation of a self-portrait as a learner collage provide mechanisms through which the students can performatively re-represent and recall their identities as learners. The processes enable the students to make connections between self and the meanings carried in the pictorial texts to develop self-awareness and responsibility for their own learning. It also provides the learners and their mentors with the necessary symbols and metaphors to scaffold the process of the inquiry in ways that allowed them to use the metaphors associated with the symbols to talk about change and to begin to engage with the formal requirements of the curriculum. Keywords: imaging; inquiry-based learning; learning power; metaphor; symbol
Translated title of the contributionSigns, symbols and metaphor: linking self with text in inquiry-based learning
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447 - 464
Number of pages18
JournalCurriculum Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Routledge


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