MetaSelf Teaching Kits
First Teaching Kit:
Individuals and Small Teams
- Learning the Basic Model
- Individualizing the Model
- Constructing Ones Own Model
- Fostering Self-Analysis
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.
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,
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
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.
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
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
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?
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
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
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
For further suggestions on how the MetaSelf Model can be used as a
psycho-spiritual tool, click here.