Children’s Metaphoric Expressions: The Meaning of Friendship. A Comparative Analysis between the USA and Poland.

Monika Wisniewska-Kin, Anastasia Bristley, Krystyna Nowak-Fabrykowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this research is to analyze children’s concept of friendship. Metaphor can be described as a similarity between objects or events that normally belong to different domains (Jolley and Thomas 1995, p.335) and children have problems with an understanding of metaphors in comparison of understanding riddles because of the nature of the answer required or because of aspects of the linguistic form. (Winner et all., 1980,30). Visual metaphors can be used to communicate many meanings (Jolley &Thomas 1995) and analyzing children’s drawing circles and lines may give window to their thoughts. Through their symbolic representations children demonstrate what they know, what they experience in the family and in the society where they live. Many experiences of young children are grounded in factors described and influenced by an environmental factors described by Bronfenbrenner (2004) in his ecological theory as different systems, but children have also their own theories and ideas. The different ways of child’s thinking could be “visible” when we ask children questions. Piaget (1951) describes the five types of reactions reveled by examination of the children while asking them questionsChildren may just answer at random without further reflection (called answer at random), they can invent an answer in which they do not really believe , or in which their believe merely by force of saying it (called romancing), answer just to satisfy the observer (called suggested conviction); can reason using previous knowledge, mental images, mental schemas, syncretic association ,etc., (called liberated conviction); and answer question spontaneously without reasoning (is called spontaneous conviction)( pp.10-13). Ethnographic research using Spradley’s (1979) theory of that meanings are derived from the symbolically coded concepts. Each symbol has references that can help to discover the meaning hidden in the metaphor where X- is a symbol and Y is a referent). In this research the symbolic meaning are analyzed by analyzing children’s drawing and comments on the topic /concept “friendship.” The researcher asked a group of children to draw a picture of friends and ask 3 questions: Forty-three children attending the Child Development and Learning Laboratory at the Midwest University in the USA and forty-tree children from the University Laboratory in one of the central cities of Poland served as population for this study. The results demonstrated that children were able to draw how many friends they have and differentiated them from playmates. In the USA children associate friendship with helping another person and secondly with playing with someone .In Poland children the most associated friendship with play and smile.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-69
JournalThe New Educational Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 15 2017


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