IoP Energy: Once More Unto The Breach…

Why do we make these analogies? It is not just to co-opt words but to co-opt their inferential machinery. Some deductions that apply to motion and space also apply nicely to possession, circumstances and time. That allows the deductive machinery for space to be borrowed for reasoning about other subjects. […] The mind couches abstract concepts in concrete terms.

— Steven Pinker, How The Mind Works, p.353 [emphasis added]

I am, I must confess, a great believer in the power of analogy.

Although an analogy is, in the end, only an analogy and must not be confused with the thing itself, it can be helpful.

As Steven Pinker notes above, the great thing about concrete analogies and models of abstract concepts is that they allow us to co-opt the inferential machinery of well-understood, concrete concepts and apply them to abstract phenomena: for example, we often treat time as if it were space (“We’re moving into spring”, “Christmas will soon be here”, and so on).

To that end, I propose introducing the energy stores and pathways of the IoP model to KS3 and GCSE students as tanks and taps.

Energy Stores = tanks

Energy Pathways = taps

Tank and taps

Consider the winding up of an elastic band.

tank and taps 3

This could be introduced to students as follows:

tank and taps 2.PNG

One advantage I think this has over one of my previous efforts is that I am not inventing new objects with arbitrary properties; rather, I am using familiar objects in the hope of co-opting their inferential machinery.

Suggestions, comments and criticisms are always welcome.

My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognises them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.)

He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly.

— Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922), 6.54

 

 

8 thoughts on “IoP Energy: Once More Unto The Breach…

  1. Miss Ironfist March 18, 2017 / 6:56 pm

    I liked the bit about rendering time as space; I never xonsidered that before. It’s Saturday night: Monday — and work! — are nigh…

    • e=mc2andallthat March 19, 2017 / 9:46 am

      Damn! Time to get out the digital Brillo, perchance?

      • paulmartin42 March 20, 2017 / 9:57 am

        My brother-in-law is a one hammer-any-task; I used to be a Unix afficianado; words too have their place in time …. I can see young people relating to stores but “Tanks & taps” will need more than wire wool to perform a pantone upgrade.

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