Analogies, an introduction.

By on Jun 17, 2015 in The Unruly Ascetic

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I’ve found myself thinking in analogies lately.  I know this is the result of doing a lot of teaching and trying to come up with understandable ways to explain something unfamiliar… but do analogies work for everyone or just for a certain type of person, like me?

Ian the Giant says emphatically, YES.  Analogies are universal and the foundation of human communication.  Words are tiny analogies (a stretch in terms of the literal linguistics, but I get what he’s putting down). I like how his brain works, but I’m talking visualizations and hesitate to be so sure that I’m not just a bit cray.  I’ve found myself coming up with ridiculous analogies for everything, from mundane things (that everyone already understands) as well as complex concepts surrounding practice and experience (that I’m not actually sure I understand).

We each learn and remember things based on different preferences and stimuli.  I would imagine that most people who teach would impart information in the way that would suit themselves if they were the student (for instance, visual learners as teachers likely do a lot of demonstrating… and everyone assumes I am an auditory learner judging by all the yack yack but I have never excelled at listening, so my theory is already flawed).

We can really only teach what we know, so it would work out well if I’m right.  But more importantly, this draws the student and teacher together based on similar preferences in communication.  The most effective teacher for any given student is she/he who communicates in the way the student can understand.

So, as an aspiring teacher (not just someone who opens up shop, but someone who communicates effectively) I’ve been trying to figure out how I learn. What causes confusion, what works, and what really clarifies the practice on the small scale and the large. I apparently like analogies.  I frequently use analogies to clarify my own confusions and I am finding myself passing those images on to students with the hopes that they will provide similar clarity.

So, I’m going to test out some of my analogies of the nameless you of the internet and see how refined I can get them.

Here goes…

stay tuned.