Metaphorically Speaking

Type of strategy: Brainstorming and DiscussionCollaborationEnergizers and State ChangersMetaphors, Analogies, and Similes

Intended Audience: StudentsTeachers

Learning styles: EN: Extraversion and IntuitionES: Extraversion and SensingIN: Introversion and IntuitionIS: Introversion and Sensing

Bring out the creative side of your audience / class by having them create metaphors about the topic you are introducing. We often would like our group or class to think dfferently about and idea, problem, or exercise and sometimes creating a metaphor can help trigger insights.


In this activity the participants/students, working in pairs, discuss metaphors provided by you and relate them to their work situation, organization, or assigment.  In addition, each pair creates one or two metaphors to add to the list.  Each pair is given an opportunity to explain one of their metaphors to the full group. You could use this as an opener for a workshop, or class, to start people thinking about a topic in new ways - from a varitey of perspectives.


Of course the metaphors will focus on the topic of the workshop or class session and is a very adaptable exercise.  Below are some examples that could be used with a group of  teachers:

  1. Teaching is like building a pyramid
  2. A school is like an ocean-going ship
  3. Teachers are artists
  4. Students are like bumper cars
  5. Education is a mosaic
  6. Technology is like a moving train
  7. Using technology in the classroom is like riding a horse for the first time



Tom Siebold, a writer and business consultant in Minneapolis

Submitted by: Steve Prull