Skip main navigation

£199.99 £139.99 for one year of Unlimited learning. Offer ends on 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply

Find out more


Being a good educator is knowing who you are and understanding yourself. Find out how metaphors are a useful tool in helping you do this.
© University of Reading

Being a good a educator is knowing who you are and understanding yourself. This very much applies to the staff who have supporting roles within schools too, and metaphors are a useful tool in helping you do this.

Metaphors are comparisons between two unrelated concepts, in which one thing is said to be another. For example, “food for thought”, “the world’s your oyster”, or “they’re the apple of my eye”. This isn’t to be confused with similes which uses like or as for comparison. For example, “you slept like a baby”, “as quick as a flash” or “blind as a bat”. Metaphors are useful in making the complex simple, and indeed in terms of teaching, enable teachers to describe the complex task of teaching so others can understand it.

Using images can help you find a metaphor that can describe you as a member of the staff group. For example, take a look at this image:

A photo of a gardener sowing seeds into soil

© Pixabay
This gardening metaphor is often a popular choice to describe an educator. As a gardener you can be seen to cultivate the ground, laying the foundations ready for young learners to grow. You create a healthy environment where they can happily grow and just like young plants, you would nurture the children and regularly water, feed and check for optimal conditions to ensure they continue to thrive. You would recognise that some plants will have different requirements and would tend to this to ensure growth. All of this done with time, care and patience.
Now it’s your turn. Take a few moments to look at the following images:

Image 1

© Pixabay license

Image 2

© Pixabay license

Image 3

© Pixabay license

Image 4

© Pixabay license

What do each of these images mean to you as a member of the learning support staff in your school? Share your thoughts about each one with your fellow learners in the comments area below.

© University of Reading
This article is from the free online

Supporting Successful Learning in Primary School

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education