MetaSelf We are tightrope walkers on a beam of light
How to use MetaSelf
<< How MetaSelf is Built >>

Lesson Plans
MetaSelf Teaching Kits

First Teaching Kit:
Individuals and Small Teams


  1. Learning the Basic Model
  2. Individualizing the Model
  3. Constructing Ones Own Model
  4. Fostering Self-Analysis

Step 1

This step involves a thorough examination of the Concrete Organising Notions (CONs) and their relationship to each other and the Image Schemas (I-S). Please note that the order of collection and sorting can be reversed; that is, while below the collecting is tied to the CONs and the sorting to the I-S, it is clearly possible to have students collect material using the I-S and then sort them into the CONs and analyze those relationships. Follow through on whatever method you think will work best.

1. Collection of Material: The overriding purpose of Step 1 is for students to appreciate the depth and breadth of spatial metaphors and their use in our everyday lives. Since this information will also function as the raw material for later analysis and evaluation work, they will need to carry out focused searches for examples of the CONs and I-S. To approach this crucial first step effectively, we suggest the following hunt strategy:

A. Use each separate CON (vision/light, structure, location, balance and locomotion) as a starting point for collection. In this way, students from the beginning will be alerted to basic categories of spatial metaphors. This will entail either five successive searches by one group (or individual), one for each CON, or five small teams each working simultaneously on a different CON.

B. If you have a longer amount of time for your project, encourage the students to hunt as broadly and inventively as possible, making maximum use of various learning tendencies. Their goal is to locate any relevant example of the CON on which they are focusing. For example, have auditory-based students search through radio, daily conversation, film and TV soundtracks, singing and song lyrics, joke telling, etc. Also have them stay attuned to how delivery (tone, volume, pitch, word choice, speed, rhythm, timing) can contribute to or detract from meaning. Visual learners can work with images of any sort: written texts, art objects, clothes, colors, magazine and picture books, advertisements, and TV and film scenes. Kinesthetic students can sort through motion- or body-based activities: walking, running, standing, sitting, lying, sleeping, balancing, jumping, dancing, use of physical gesture, senses of physical boundaries, types of physical interaction, etc. This method allows you to break a larger group into smaller self-selected and self-motivated teams, which is always more efficient and effective for learning. For an individual working alone, it gives direction about how to move through a mass of information in a constructive manner.

C. If your time is too limited to carry out a lengthy search, you are free to have your students focus in on one particular field of information (such as a book, magazine, or film). Feel free to choose from the search areas suggested in b), or to generate ones on your own. Just remember to have at least one search area suited for each learning tendency. A film might be useful in this regard since it incorporates sound, images, and physical action; you could therefore have your group break itself into three groups, each collecting examples of the CONs from one area. You can also have the students brainstorm and free- associate in groups to produce examples for each CON.

2) Sorting and Analysis of Material:

Once this material has been collected in sufficient detail, the students will need to begin to sort it according to the I-S and analyze the relationships that result. (Please refer to the Glossary, where a list of I-S with brief explanations is located.) There are various ways to approach this activity:

a) Apply the whole list of I-S one-by-one to each group of CON examples and determine quickly which I-S are relevant and which are not to each group. Among those that are relevant, have the students create a ranking of most to least, and then discuss the possible meanings of this scale.

b) Run each I-S separately through each of the five CON example groups and have the students quickly determine whether or not it applies. Once the I-S have been sorted, do as in a) above, creating a relevance ranking and discussing its ramifications.

NOTE: for "A. and B.", the work can be sped up by dividing it among small teams.

c) Focus in on each CON group and have the students create exact lists of which examples apply to which I-S. What does this tell them about each I-S in that group? To follow up on this activity, you may want them to go out and collect more examples for a particular I-S alone, such as front/back, if the students find they need to know more.

D. Cross-reference which I-S fall under which CONs, and cross-reference examples. Explore these overlapping (or non- overlapping) relationships. Which I-S are most flexible? Which are most narrowly confined? How do examples of a particular I-S cross-over or not cross-over between CONs? What reasons can account for this? What are the relationships that are revealed between certain CONS? For example, an acrobat moving across a tightrope could appear under Locomotion (moving toward vs. moving away; moving vs. stationary), Location (touching vs. not touching the wire; on vs. off), and Balance (up vs. down; left vs. right; front vs. back; balance vs. imbalance; above vs. below).

E. What kind of final evaluation can be made about the I-S in general and their relationships to the CONs? Once specific analysis has been carried out, step back and contemplate the overall meaning of identified patterns. It might be useful to have the students produce some kind of graphic or tabular representation of the results of this evaluation, especially since it could prove useful in Step 2.

F. If time is short, you are free to limit the above activities to a particular CON, or to a targeted set of I-S.

Step 2

This step transfers the general understanding of the CONs and I-S gained in Step 1 to a more personal exploration of their impact on how individuals think, feel, and act. The teaching material below is geared towards a rather broad self- analysis, not targeting any one specific aspect of identity. You are free, however, to tailor the individualizing process towards certain goals; for example, you may want to focus solely on the spiritual/religious dimension and determine what the CONs and I-S can reveal about that particular side of a person. Of course, a myriad of other, specialized areas are also possible: mythic, ethical, psychological, class-based, cultural and ethnic dimensions, to name just a few.

1) Individualizing the CONs:

Since the students should already be acquainted with the general use and concept of the CONs, the point here is to dive right into each students own relationship to them.

A. Ask the student to compile a list of examples for each CON that most appeal to him or her. The master lists produced in Step 1 can be edited, honed, or added to for this purpose. Then have each student rank the items from least to most favorite or appealing, and discuss/analyze what this pattern tells them about their sense of location, balance, etc.

B. For each CON, ask the students the following questions:

Locomotion: What kind of motion best represents the way you move in general (e.g. a bear, a penguin, a skater)? What is good and bad about that? If you could move in the way you most desire to move, what or who would you be and why? (e.g. a fish, airplane, ballerina)


Balance. What image, person, or thing best represents your present sense of balance? (e.g. a set of scales, a tilted see-saw, a person on top of a bucking bronco) What is good and bad about that? If you could have a sense of balance that would be perfect for you, what would it be and why?

Location. What place do you presently see yourself in metaphorically? (e.g. in the dumps, on top of a mountain, on a stormy sea in a leaky boat) What is good and bad about that? What place do most desire to be metaphorically? Why?

Vision/Light. What image best represents how you presently see the world? (e.g. a bright sun on a cloudless day, a dark blizzard, trying to make a left turn at a crowded, blocked intersection) What is good and bad about that? If you could represent the range of vision that you most desire, what would it be? Why?

At present, which CONs most approximate (and least approximate) the students ideal notion of him or herself. What overall portrait does this paint?

C. Pair up certain CONs and use them as entrances into self- analysis. For example, Locomotion and Location can be turned into. Where are you now? Where do you want to go? How do you get there? Another possible combination is Balance and Location: What things throw you off balance? How is that related to what you stand for (beliefs); where you stand now, (your circumstances)? Where else would you need to stand, or how else should you stand in the same place, to regain your sense of balance? You can prepare combination/question sets, or you can provide a model and let the students generate their own.

2) Individualizing the Image Schemas

Again, let the students jump right into working directly with the I-S and how they relate to them individually.

A. Have the students use the lists for each CON compiled in Step 1 and select the top three I-S that appeal to them. Then have them rank these three from most to least alluring and analyze this preference. This exercise can be reversed so that the students look at the I-S that least appeal to them (or even repel them in some way). Again, they need to rank their lack of attraction and analyze it.

B. If you skipped Step 1, let the students look at the Glossary of I-S and select the five which are most appealing to them. Have them collect examples for each of the five and then analyze what about these particular I-S most attracts them. What basic meaning does each of these important I-S have to them? (e.g. up/down might mean social mobility or spiritual condition) If you wish, each individual can form the results of this process into some kind of representation that expresses this personal meaning of the I-S. For example, a person can assemble a collage of sounds or images, or he could put together a pantomine skit of gestures and other body uses. This exercise can be modified so that it includes more than five or focuses on as little as one of the I-S. It can also be modified so that it focuses on a certain number of I-S that are least attractive or even repellant to an individual.

C. Let the students search through the Glossary of I-S and locate pairs of I-S which for them are in basic conflict (e.g. up/down: flipped out; feeling topsy-turvy; upset; feeling everything turned upside-down). Of these, which one best represents the conflicts they feel in their life at present? Encourage them to represent their analysis into some kind of graphic representation, such as a song, a skit, a drawing, or a collage based around the I-S conflict. This activity can be reversed; the student can search for harmonious pairs of I-S, and then, from among these, choose the one which best represents the part of his or her life that is most unified or reconciled (e.g. up/down: golden mean; mathematical median; navel; feeling centered). Again, encourage the students to produce some sort of graphic or plastic representation of how the I-S pair symbolizes their lives.

D. Have the students sort the I-S according to the categories vulgar and polite. (To use the I-S of up/down as an example, vulgar uses of up include up yours, giving the finger, and being up s... creek without a paddle, while a few of the polite uses of up are upscale, uptown, top hat, moving up socially, and the upper/higher functions. As for down, vulgar connotations are almost too many to mention: get down and dirty, urinating and defecating (lower body functions), baser instincts, the bottom/butt. What are the polite uses of down?) Which I-S easily fall into one category alone? Which hover between categories? Have the students produce examples for the I-S once this sorting is done. To which category is the person most drawn? Why? What does vulgar and polite mean exactly to that person? This exercise might be more useful when done as a follow-up to "A" and/or "B" above.

Step 3

The purpose of this step is for the students to synthesize all of the general and individual findings from Steps 1 and 2 into a single, plastic representation of how they see themselves at present. It is important as preparation, therefore, that in Step 2 the students have already begun to do this kind of finishing work on a less ambitious, more focused level. The CON of Vision/Light is purposely deleted from this section, as it will be the primary subject of Step 4.

A. Introduce briefly to the students the concept of the three axes (x,y, and z) as a commonly accepted means to map out a three-dimensional space. Using a simple geometrical object, such as a square or a rectangle, let them experiment with how the CONs of Location, Structure, Balance, and Locomotion all impact each other. For example, by placing the object in a certain space on the x, y, z grid, how does that effect its apparent balance? (graphic) What kind of locomotion possibilities does it have in that position? How does all that change if the balance or location is changed? How is all of this transformed if the objects structure or or arrangment of parts is changed (for example, to a triangle or to a circle)?

B. Reminding the students of their work in Step 2, have them determine, for their present identity:

What kind of shape or arrangement of parts best represents themselves? Where should it sit with respect to the center of the axes grid (that is, where all three axes intersect)? How should it be balanced in that location? Should it have any inherent sense of locomotion or should it appear completely inert?

This activity, of course, can be narrowed into representing one distinct aspect of a persons identity (such as religious beliefs). Be sure that they pay close attention to their work with the I-S, their present preferences and aversions to certain of them, and their sense of how certain pairs create or defuse conflict for them. How can this be translated into the CONs, into the way the shape is constructed, located, balanced, and given a sense of motion or inertia?

Step 4

In this final step, the student will move from a focus on inward- directed analysis to expressing how they relate to other individuals, society, and a transcendental sphere. Because they will work on creating an overall picture or vision of themselves in a symbolic space, they will mostly be engaged with metaphors of Vision/Light (e.g. perspective, point of view, blind spots, etc.). Put simply, they will become aware of their Weltanchaung, or how they view the world. This knowledge could be used as a means to foster change, growth, or healing toward self-selected goals.

A. It is very important that the students be aware of their representative object as three-dimensional; it needs in some way to be hung, mounted, or set in a room or other space of their choice. How would they do this? Why do they choose this particular space or platform? Again, their work with the I-S and how they relate on a general and personal level with the CONs should be expressed in this environmental placement process. When doing this, encourage them to consider the following:

This space and how the object is placed in it must represent three distinct points of view: how the student relates to individuals; how they view society; how they envision the transcendental. To aid them in constructing this nesting for their object, you might suggest that they consider the whole space as the social frame, different standpoints within the space as the individual-to-individual frame, and a standpoint from outside of the space altogether as the transcendental frame. Be sure also to have them think through how their object sits on the three-grid axis (x, y, and z), and how the three frames would need to be arranged out from this center to express this fundamental point of view.

If the students feel they need to do more work with the CONs or I-S to prepare for this last step, have them refer to the examples collected for the CON of Vision/Light in Steps 1 and 2. These should then be sorted both generally and for the student individually into the three categories of how they view individuals, how they view society, and how they view the transcendent. The work of sorting the I-S into the Vision/Light CON can then be further refined, so that it reflects these three basic points of view. Let them feel free to explore which I-S overlap in all three areas and which are specific. Also, have them examine which areas use I-S that are identified personally with conflict or with harmony. What does this analysis tell the students about their present perspectives? If this analysis work requires the students fundamentally to rethink the synthesis that produced their object in Step 3, have them reconfigure it.

B. Once this placement work is done, the students can use this model as a means for further self-examination and for self- directed change. In so doing, they might try some of the activities listed below:

How does point of view radically change the way the world is located, structured, balanced, and moved through? Have the students place different people in the same location they have placed themselves. For example, they may put someone they admire (or despise) in their shoes. How does this fit or not fit that person? What are the specific differences in terms of the CONs and how they are used?

A similar exercise is to reverse this process and have the student place themselves in someone elses position. To do this, they need to figure out what kind of object that person would be, how it would be located, balanced, and move on a three-axis grid, and what resultant points of view it would have. One possible use for this activity might be conflict resolution. By using this model, the student can make a point-by-point clear comparison between how two people have different make-ups, why that leads to conflict, and what might therefore be done to defuse or overcome that problem. That is to say, encourage the students to step outside of point of view systems (their own and others) in order to see more clearly the relationships between the whole and the parts. This objective standpoint also should aid them in answering the key question about any conflict resolution: Who should benefit from it and why? A third possibility is that the student compare two different points of view in terms of the I-S. Perhaps one person tends toward up/down while another toward left/right. How does this affect overall make-up and points of view?

For further suggestions on how the MetaSelf Model can be used as a psycho-spiritual tool, click here.