Correspondence Discourses


Correspondence between objective fact and subjective understanding

Principal Metaphors

The specific metaphors of Correspondence Discourses vary from one theory to the next. However, broadly speaking, they tend to cluster around the following:
  • Knowledge is … external, objective truth
  • Knowing is … internal, subjective understanding
  • Learner is … a mental entity in a physical body
  • Learning is … internalizing
  • Teaching is … transmitting


Ancient (entrenched in the language)


Correspondence Discourses are perspectives on learning that assume a radical separation of mental (or internal, or brain-based) and physical (or external, or body-based). That separation sets up the need for a correspondence between what’s happening in the real, objective world and what’s happening in one’s inner, subjective world. Most Correspondence Discourses are developed around object-based metaphors (e.g., knowledge seen as a thing, a commodity, bits of information, a fluid, and/or a product/outcome). Consequently, learning is commonly interpreted as a discontinuous, accumulative process, of learning one thing and then the next. Typically, Correspondence Discourses rely on linear/direct imagery, rigid binaries/dichotomies/dualisms, and Newtonian mechanics. (Contrast with Coherence Discourses.) Many Correspondence Discourses are developed around classification systems, taxonomies, and typologies that are based on multiple distinctions.


Different Correspondence Discourses have different issues, but all rely on a troublesome mental/physical dichotomy.

Map Location

Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2020). “Correspondence Discourses” in Discourses on Learning in Education.

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