Learning theory or metaphor?

I've just watched several parts of George Siemen's Situated Connectivism. He surveys many of the learning theories that have been accepted by academia and related to recent advances in neuroscience. His driving concern (read "push") appears to be the determination of an accurate learning theory. He states that a learning theory should do three things:
  1. Explain and predict observations

  2. Advance a research discipline

  3. Prepare for future needs changed by technologies and cultural advancements
I have a different purpose in mind when I've recently been blogging about learning like a healthy forest, botanical learning and a compost theory of learning. My underlying purpose (read "pull") also spawns my appreciation of Jay's wonderful book: Informal Learning and of the impressive learning that Toyota continually realizes in The Elegant Solution.

I also think a learning theory should do three things:

  1. Make learning fun, playful, and fulfilling instead of procedural, strenuous and dreary.

  2. Change the stories we tell about learning in ways that heals the damage from formal schooling and restores the curiosity, motivation and creativity for life long learning.

  3. Give learners permission to find their unique passions, discover their own learning style and gain confidence in those exploratory heuristics that flow most easily for them.
Given I have so little concern for empirical validation or academic legitimatization of a learning theory, I suspect I'm really in search of a bunch of learning metaphors. If we used learning metaphors, instructional designs would be more creative. We would naturally be clever in how we used the design models to avoid misdiagnosis, overuse of training or inadvertently reverting to content delivery.

Metaphors nurture creativity because they are not accurate. They are open to different interpretations and amplifications. In the process of wondering about a metaphor, wonderful possibilities come to mind for some troubling problem, obstacle or stalemate.

Theories work great when we want to be right. Metaphors work better when we want to be effective.

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