Metaphors about school and education include: (1) Education is the key to new worlds. (2) School is a vaccine for ignorance. (3) Education is the ticket to prosperity. (4) Education sheds light on dark places. (5) School is a dystopia.
Read the rest of the metaphors below!
Metaphors about education and schooling help us understand why it is important to our lives. Some negative education metaphors may also help us explain things we don’t like about school.
Metaphors about school are also useful for explaining why people should go to or stay in school.
Check out these 23 education and school metaphors for some ideas.
Inspiring Metaphors for Education
1. Education unlocks doors to new worlds.
This metaphor doesn’t involve single steps or long, hard pathways. Instead, this metaphor refers to learning as a way of accessing new opportunities. Through education, we have increased access to opportunities that were ‘locked’ to use beforehand.
2. Education sheds new light on dark spaces.
The idea of education ‘shedding light’ evokes imagery of people walking around in the dark. The learner has a flashlight and they can shine it around their space, getting a better understanding and appreciation of their ‘world’.
3. Education opens up new horizons.
Travelers ‘open up new horizons’ when they travel over a hill and see new things on the distant horizon that’s now in view. In education, this means that a learner learns something new and now they can understand things that wouldn’t have been able to understand before.
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4. Education is the bridge between the present and the future.
We spend most of the first 20 years of our lives in education. During this time, we’re learning things that we use to create the society of tomorrow. Without education, we can’t created a better tomorrow.
5. Education is a ticket to prosperity.
A ticket is often used to get someone into an exclusive or costly place. A ticket is needed to get into a concert, onto an airplane, on a bus, and so on. So, calling education a ‘ticket to prosperity’ means that education is important in order to achieve prosperity (wealth) in the future. Of course, education is necessary for many well-paid jobs or creating a smarter, better economy for tomorrow.
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6. Education is the key to success.
A key is required to open doors and, like a ticket, is needed to get you through exclusive doors into new (and more desirable) places. Education is one of the best ways to get you to success: career, financial and personal.
7. Education is a passport to new worlds.
You can take this one as literally as you like. Maybe education is your way of learning about new worlds (through studies of literature, history and geography). Or maybe those ‘new worlds’ are new opportunities like the chance to get a better job or to meet new people.
8. Education is hope.
Many people hold onto hope for a better life through education. While we might literally say education “gives” hope, to say education “is” hope is a metaphorical way of saying the same thing.
9. Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity.
This old saying shows that education is valuable in both good times and bad. When you are on good times, you can point to your education as a reason for your prosperity. In bad times, you turn to your education as your hope for a better day. It could get you a better job, or even the skills to get yourself ahead.
10. Education is a marathon not a sprint.
This is a .metaphor you might use when someone is sick of studying for their next exam. It means that getting an education takes a long time and you need to pace yourself. You should look at the long game: slow and steady will prevent burnout and get you to the end eventually.
11. Education is the answer.
Education could be the answer to many things. It may be the answer to questions about how to ‘escape’ problems like poverty or a bad job. Or it may be the answer to a question about how to ‘get ahead’ or achieve self improvement. In fact, there are many well-documented lifelong effects of lack of education.
12. Education is the antidote to ignorance.
Education is a metaphorical antidote against misinformation and ignorance. It can protect people against lies and fake news and help us think critically about the things we read in the news.
13. Education is the root of success.
A root holds a tree in the ground so it can withstand strong winds and storms. It also delivers water and nutrients from the soil up into the tree to ensure it is alive and thriving. Similarly, education is the root of people’s success. It keeps us strong and stable by giving us the secure jobs of the future. It gives us the skills and knowledge that we need to succeed and thrive.
14. Education is the silver bullet.
We use the phrase ‘silver bullet’ to explain something that is the ultimate solution to a problem. In folklore, it was often only a silver bullet that could kill a werewolf or vampire. But in this metaphor, it means that education is the only thing that can solve our problems – such as climate change, democracy, corruption and poverty.
15. Education is the most powerful weapon.
This metaphor is similar to the ‘silver bullet’ metaphor. Education as a ‘weapon’ means that education is a very powerful thing. You might have also heard a similar phrase: ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’. Essentially, in the long run education will be more important than fighting wars because educated people are more powerful. They can invent things, generate wealth, and create a peaceful future.
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Metaphors about Schools
16. School is a dystopian world.
‘Dystopia’ is a word used to explain a world that is far worse than our own. Usually dystopian movies and books talk about a future world that has gone down hill due to climate change, invasion or dictatorships.
Some people might think of a school as a dystopian society. The teacher is a dictator and students have no chance to vote them out or disagree. The teacher will make decisions about what is done and said in the classroom. Students are forced to sit and follow instructions with minimal freedom or autonomy. Sounds horrible!
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17. Schooling is a vaccine for violence.
In many societies, education is used as a way to decrease violence in a society. Children are sent to school in order to deter them from joining gangs or committing crimes. School is offered as an ‘alternative’ to criminal life, which is seen as a huge barrier to education. So long as children are given the chance to go to school, they have one other pathway away from a life of violence.
Similarly, when people go to school, they learn about values, ethics and compassion. This enables them to learn why violence is not a good choice in life.
18. School is a microcosm of society.
A microcosm is something that has miniature characteristics of something much larger. When we call school a microcosm of society, we look schools like little societies in themselves. There’s a principal (the president?), classrooms (suburbs?), nurses and administrators.
In some schools, students even have the chance of democratic education where they can be child citizens, having a vote on how their ‘mini society’ should be run.
19. School is a prison.
You might hear a child say this to their mother on their way home from a particularly bad day at school. To call school a prison is to refer to the lack of freedom children often feel at school. In most societies, children don’t have a choice: they’re forced to go to school every day, follow the rules of a dictator, enter rooms and exit rooms when bells ring, line up when they’re told to line up, and so on and so on. Not much freedom!
This is a metaphor that conforms to the behaviorist theory of education.
20. School is a treasure.
Schools are things societies covet as great institutions that deliver wealth, peace and happiness. Like something precious on your shelf at home that you point to and love, school is also a ‘treasure’. Societies that don’t have great school systems are envious of societies that do – because a quality school is something that a society needs in order to flourish.
21. The school is the cornerstone of society.
A cornerstone is one of the most important stones when building a building. It literally is the first stone placed and is usually the biggest and strongest. In many ways, it holds the building up! So, when we call something a cornerstone, we are calling it something foundational and deeply important to the structural integrity of the whole.
School, we can say, is the cornerstone of society. Without schools, people won’t get the education they need, they won’t be able to read or count money or learn about the importance of democracy. So school is essential for keeping everything going!
22. Schools are the engines of growth.
You’ll often hear politicians use this phrase when running for office. This metaphor pictures the school as an ‘engine’ that drives an entire national economy. People are educated at school so that they have the skills and ability to build and grow businesses that will make money and jobs of the future.
23. My home is a classroom / library.
Some people feel very comfortable at school. They love to learn and broaden their horizons. So, for these people, they may say that school is their ‘home’. The place that’s your home is the place you feel most comfortable. It may be the place where you feel most yourself and are able to relax and enjoy yourself. Obviously, the person isn’t saying they actually live there – simply that it’s the place they feel most comfortable and happy.
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Use the above metaphors however you like. You might want to share them with friends and colleagues, use them as a warm up activity in a college seminar, or use these phrases in your everyday life.
If you have any additional metaphors about school or education that you can add, please comment below. If I like your metaphor, I’ll add it to this list!
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]