Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




William F. Losito


Donald Schon (1979) in his article, "Generative Metaphor: A Perspective on Problem-Setting on Social Policy," noted that the main difficulty of analyzing social policy was defining how the problem was "set." By "set" he meant the depiction of "what needs fixing" in the metaphors generated from a troublesome situation. Consequently, for Schon, evaluating social policy meant evaluating not the answer but the question. This dissertation, likewise, has focused on the question, the metaphors which underlay the setting of problems concerning the public policy of schools of choice.;Using the work of cognitive linguists George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, I identified and analyzed metaphorical expressions culled from three different groups of academicians who favor schools of choice. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 of the dissertation are divided respectively into representative writings by advocates of (1) public-private schools of choice; (2) private only schools of choice; and (3) public only schools of choice.;Metaphors, according to Lakoff and Johnson "play a constitutive role in the structuring of our experience." They are a link, according to Lakoff and Johnson, to the construction and reproduction of our culture. to understand the conceptions underlying the metaphorical expressions used by schools of choice advocates, the metaphors were grouped into larger categories. These larger categories included "life is a game," "systems are containers," "causation is emerging," "systems are hierarchies," "market competition is a success story," "systems are balancing machines," "education is a structure," "controlled choice is a rational argument," and "choice schools are a link to the community".;The advocates of schools of choice advanced their doctrines within their metaphors. Isolating the metaphors from the debate led to the conclusion that all three groups used the marketplace as their foundational metaphor. Even when the advocates for public schools of choice directly rejected the marketplace as an analogy for education, their metaphors highlighted competition and supply and demand as solutions to the problem of improving the educational system.



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