Wendell Jones, Ph.D.
Sandia National Laboratories
A keynote presentation to a symposium entitled "Theory to Practice II: How Can We Teach So It Takes", held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, May 16-18, 2002. Reproduced on this website by permission from the author.
Metaphors are very powerful tools in constructing reality. We can limit possibilities by being unaware of the metaphors we're using, or we can create new possibilities by choosing new metaphors. Individual experience also has a powerful effect on this aspect of perception. Just listen to the metaphors an engineer uses to describe a sunset compared to the metaphors an artist uses for the same scene. In this way each new experience is in intimate co-formation with the complex whole of the the person's life. What each person "learns" from an experience is only to a small extent defined by the experience; the formative context plays the dominant role.