Narrative & Metaphor in Education

Programme now online! Regular registration open until 28 February.

Welcome to our conference website! The Vrije Universiteit teacher education department is proud to announce a 3-day conference during which 9 keynote speakers   (5 presentations) will provide their own unique perspective on narrative and/or metaphor research in education. We invite you to join us in what will be a lively discussion about research on education and learning and its implications for practice.

Conference theme

Many people associate the art of storytelling and the use of metaphors with fiction and poetry. Over the last 30 years, however, philosophers, psychologists, anthropologists and linguists have offered insights into the fundamental role of both narrative and metaphor as instruments by which human beings think, perceive, imagine, and make sense of their experiences. Those in education studies have begun to utilize these insights to great effect in various educational research domains ranging from exploration of actual teaching practice to analyses of the way we talk and think about education.

The metaphor and narrative perspectives, however, have mostly been utilized separately. Moreover, 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. Moreover, 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.

Conference background and organization

This conference 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 2016. More on the Narrative/Metaphor Nexus Project can be found here.

The conference will be organized from the Vrije Universiteit teacher education department in Amsterdam by a team of education, narrative and metaphor specialists. Its research institute, LEARN!, carries out both basic and applied research on learning and education. The conference is organized in collaboration with Metaphor Lab Amsterdam.