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Analogy, dialectics and lifelong learning

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Adopting a question and answer format, this paper examines an unlikely link between the dissimilar concepts of analogy and dialectics. Both concepts are simply defined, briefly explained and their common ground established in relation to education and learning. Graphic and visual analogies are used at key points to illustrate complex points. Combining analogy and dialectics can contribute positively to all educational activity and the implications of this are examined, particularly in relation to adult lifelong learning and its social application. The potential of the Hegelian dialectic, as applied by Freire to combat the traditional 'banking concept' of education, is acknowledged as a liberating tool but found to be limited by its oppositional nature. It is superseded by a more holistic dialectic, from the work of Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico, which has even greater potential for application in the learning context. Using analogy as the trigger, Vico's specific 'double dialectic' connects the macro-scale social and the micro-scale individual relationships, knowledge and experience, thought and action as 'praxis'. This dialectical exchange is examined and applied in detail to a specific classroom example selected from the author's research. The paper concludes by encouraging all teachers and trainers of adults to consciously explore the potential of analogy with dialectics for improving the learner's ability to grasp difficult concepts.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 41, Viscount Gardens, Byfleet, Surrey, KT14 6HE, UK

Publication date: 01 March 2003

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