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Allison Nieboer

Theoretical Metaphor Narrative

Introduction
I chose to create a metaphor based on gardening because I love to garden and I
was a landscaper for two summers in college. There are a lot of parallels between
plants and learning because both are all about growth. In this case, I explain how the
plants interact with the gardener, the ground and each other as it relates to each of the
theories. Some are focused on just one of these aspects as the theories are sometimes
focused on specific aspects.

Behaviorism
Behaviorism is represented by a potted plant. While the rest of the garden shares
the ground this theory remains separated from the others as the only Transmissive
theory. The Transactive Theories are all planted in the ground.
With the theory of behaviorism, the teacher has total control over exactly what
the students learn and their learning is observable. Students are considered "empty
vessels" in need of filling just as a pot is empty before the gardener fills it. In the
viewpoint of behaviorism, the teacher is the source of all knowledge and the students
are expected to do, say and remember exactly what comes from the mouth of the
teacher. Similarly, A gardener plants exactly what she expects to grow in a pot and
guides it carefully just the way she likes it. The gardener also has total control over the
water and growth of the plant, is responsible for hand watering every day and the
success of the potted plant relies completely on the gardener. The plant gets only what
the gardener provides as the students only get what the teacher provides and it can
only grow as far as the sides of the pot allow.
A successful potted plant would be one with full blooms and healthy leaves. A
successful learner, or reader, is one who as similarly observable outcomes of learning.
Goals are set and met repeatedly. What is happening in the students' mind isn't as
important as what can be seen in their actions or heard in their auditory reading.

Cognitivism
Cognitivism is represented by a Pine Tree for multiple reasons. First,
congnitivism focuses on what happens within the reader's mind, which is un-observable.
Just as you can't see a student's mind working and growing, you can't see a tree's roots
working or growing. Cognitivism includes metacognition as well, thinking about thinking.
Just as a tree's roots grow towards water, a student's mind will take her to many places
while reading. It is important and valuable to bring that metacognition to the forefront of
a readers mind to help them grow.
Second, a tree's trunk has rings which vary in size and color depending on the
amount of rain water per year. This is a representation of students' background
knowledge. Students use the information in their background to interpret what they
read. Content whith which they have more background knowledge is going to be more
easily understood.
Third, a pinetree does best given some distance from other trees. This allows the
branches to spread evenly and keep its shape. Cognitivism is a theory focused on the
individual, not necessarily how the individual interacts with other students.

Reader Response
The hydrangea represents Reader Response Theory because this plant will
respond differently depending on the soil in which it is planted. The basic/acidic levels in
the soil will determine the color of the flowers. Just as readers respond differently to
texts, these plants respond differently to soils. The gardener can make a guess as to
the colors of the flowers and can even guide the flowers to a certain color by adding
more acidic soil around it, but she can't say for certain that the color will be what she
expects. Similarly, a teacher can expect a certain response, and even try to guide
students one way or the other, but the student will respond and interact with the text in
their own way.
Reader Response Theory also proposes that a reader can read a text for an efferent,
or fact-oriented purpose, or for an aesthetic, personal/emotional based purpose. The
reader determines the purpose for reading. In this case, blue flowers represent an
efferent purpose and pink represent aesthetic. The in-between color represents the idea
that a reader's purpose could be both at different times depending on the context of life
in which they are reading the text. For example, maybe the student has to read
Chrlotte's Web for class and is only seeking to answer teacher-supplied comprehension
questions (an efferent purpose). Then they choose to read it again a year later purely
for enjoyment (an aesthetic purpose).

Constructivism
Constructivism is represented by a climbing rose. The rose would not
successfully grow without the support of a scaffold. The vines continually seek to grow
upwards and toward the sun. Without something to grow on, they would be forced to
grow along and ground and would not be as healthy. The gardener can let the rose
climb by itself, but she can also re-twist and twine the vines and direct them up the
strongest path. Vogotsky's Zone of Proximal Development gives the idea that students
need scaffolding to help them move up to the next level. Similarly, a teacher sees a
students strengths and guides them forward, always growing just a little stronger at a
time. Without scaffolding, a student would be like the rose climbing across the ground.
He or she might be answering the same questions correctly over and over again, may
be reading grade-level texts well, but would not be growing in skill. We want the
students to achieve more, to make vertical growth.
Constructivism takes the stance that learning is active and natural, and that it builds
on a student's prior learning. Some roses are perennial, meaning they come back year
after year. These will build phyisically on growth from the past year, continuing to grow
higher. Students will also build on their previous learning and background knowledge,
using it to understand what they are reading later in life.
Within constructivism, literacy is also a process of prediction and confirmation,
making hypothesis and testing them as reading takes place. This rose will seek to climb
on the structure, testing what is around as it grows upward. Students do this letter by
letter, word by word, sentence by sentence...etc. A rose does this physically, millimeter
by millimeter.

Critical Literacy
Critical literacy is represented by the plant called the "Johnny-Jump-Up". These
flowers, while beautiful, are often considered weeds. They are prolific and can be found
in many unexpected places around a garden. A gardener must have a critical eye to
identify these for what they are and control their spread. Critical literacy is similarly
about approaching a text with a critical eye and seeing it for more than face value. It is
about recognizing that a text is never neutral, but is always influenced by the thoughts
and beliefs of the author.
Critical Literacy takes the stance that students need to be taught the skill of using
a critical eye. They need to be able to consider a text anywhere in life (school, social
media, news, etc.) and examine it with a critical eye, looking for biases and flaws.

Sociolinguistics
Sociolinguistics is represented by boxwoods shaped into elephants. This is because
the shape of the plant was determined by the gardener and the vision for the garden.
Sociolinguistics takes the stance that literacy is shaped directly by a person's
environment and social context. Literacy is shaped specifically by literacy events,
practices and performances. Boxwoods can similarly be shaped first by the drawing of a
plan, the shaping of a frame, and finally the growing of the plant. It takes time, planning
and careful monitoring to make this happen. The result is the vision of the owner and
their plan for the garden.
According to Socio Linguistics, students are also impacted and shaped by the inner
structure of their social context. The people that they grow up around, listen to, read
with, sing with, will directly shape how and what they learn in literacy.
Psycholinguistics
Psycholinguistics is represented by Black Eyed Susans. These plants respond
strongly to three different contexts around them. The amount of Water, Nutrients and
Sunlight will greatly impact how they thrive and their petals will give very clear signs as
to whether they are getting enough of all three. ​Similarly, psycho linguistics sees
reading through the three cueing systems: graphophonic, syntactic, and semantic.
Psycholingistics also takes into account the "Pragmatic" cueing system, referring to the
context of the text. These plants thrive in the context of a large grouping. They do not
have the strength in their stems to grow on their own, as a student will not grow on his
or her own without understanding the context of what they read.

Connections between theories


A sprinkler head represents the connections between the theories that fall under
the umbrella of constructivism. This includes Socio Linguistics, Psycholingistics, Reader
Response Theory and Critical Literacy. The representative plans are watered by this
same sprinkler head.
The Behaviorism potted plant and the Cognitivism pine tree are not reached by
the sprinkler because they are not related. Their main distinction from the Constructivist
theories is a lack of social component to their theories.