Metaphorical Images of School: School Perceptions of Primary Education Supervisors

F. Ayse Balci
Assoc. Prof. Dr., Mersin University, Faculty of Education

Problem Statement: Schooling constitutes a significant interest area for many groups in today’s society. Governments, parents and employers have various expectations from the schooling system. As expectations of external forces influence the school system, the values, beliefs, attitudes and perceptions of those working within the school affect the internal workings of schools and contribute to the general conception of what school is for the society. This study stems from the idea that school
perceptions of actors within the schooling system may help us to understand existing school systems more effectively. Because of their significant role in the Turkish schooling system, the present study investigates primary education supervisors’ perceptions of school through metaphorical images. 
Purpose of Study: The purpose of this study is to understand how primary education supervisors’ conceptualize “the school” in the current conditions of Turkey through the help of metaphorical images.
Methods: The sample of the study consists of 150 primary education supervisors from 17 different provinces in Turkey. Supervisors who participated in an in-service training program as a part of the “improvement of Teaching Process Project” of the Ministry of National Education that was carried out in Mersin during May June 2008 were given a questionnaire asking them to describe their metaphorical images of school. Data collected through questionnaires were content analyzed.
Findings and Results: Analyses of the metaphorical images, produced by 150 primary education supervisors to describe school, revealed 8 metaphorical groups. These are named as follows: school as a production unit, an organization with lost goals, a part of life, a world of growth and development, a place of discipline and authority, a family atmosphere, a place of knowledge transmission and an institution shaping society. Overall review of the metaphorical groups provides information about the problems and difficulties faced by the Turkish educational system and whether it functions as expected or not.
Conclusions and Recommendations: Analysis of metaphorical perceptions of school provided a chance to understand both positive and contradictory dimensions in schooling. An overall evaluation of the results indicated that primary education supervisors had serious criticisms about the mechanical functioning of the existing educational system in Turkey in which students have become passive participants and schools have acted as a “Certificate Factory.’ Fundamental functions of the schools were found to be the transmission of knowledge, shaping society and cultivation of young people. It was also found that schools had a highly disciplined, authoritarian atmosphere. The results of this study may help policymakers to have an insight into the educational system in Turkey, its functional and dysfunctional dimensions. In addition, the results may provide information for teacher, principal and supervisor training programs.
Keywords: School metaphors, metaphor, primary education supervisors, school perceptions.