Home > Cognition, Ideas, Parent information, teacher information > Using Analogies With Students

Using Analogies With Students

Metaphors and Analogies are powerful learning tools because they can be a ” bridge between the known and unknown” and act as cognitive catalysts or “spark plugs” to help generate novel insights, increase comprehension of abstract concepts and improve creativity. For neurological reasons related to brain development, teen-agers are able to think analogically but not with the same fluency, frequency or accuracy as adults, so students need to see adults model analogical thinking and have opportunities to practice, critique and create their own analogies.

The Eide Neurolearning Blog is a regular read for me and the authors, two brain researchers, had this to say on the topic of analogies in the classroom:

“In the figure, its clear that children are able to activate many brain regions to identify different relationships between information, but they are less able to integrate the information, and so the picture of a child knowing lots of information, but missing the forest for the trees, is a normal part of development, and not “ADD”.Dunbar lab: “Analogy is a basic human reasoning process used in science, literature, art, education, and politics. Analogy can be used to make predictions, provide explanations, and restructure our knowledge. Analogy is also used to influence public opinion, fight battles, win wars, start and finish relationships…”

Analogical reasoning is important for virtually all inventive or creative work:

From the the Dunbar lab: “Analogy is a basic human reasoning process used in science, literature, art, education, and politics. Analogy can be used to make predictions, provide explanations, and restructure our knowledge. Analogy is also used to influence public opinion, fight battles, win wars, start and finish relationships…”

and

“Analogy is properly the domain of higher order thought because it requires fluency – lots of ideas – and integration across multiple representations. Analogy is also more simply thought of as flexible pattern recognition, the process involved in all those good things that should be emphasized in education – critical thinking and deduction, inference, and solutions by insight”

As an example of analogical reasoning, here are two I am going to use tomorrow as a Daily Board Question with the students; the first analogy is easy and the second one is more complex:

1. ” How was the Great Depression like the depression of a person?”

2. “Why can we say that FDR’s New Deal was like an Extra-Large Pizza ?”

 

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