From gap to debt: Rethinking equity metaphors in education

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This article draws upon my keynote address delivered at the 44th Oceania and Comparative and International Education Society (OCIES) Conference held at the University of Sydney. It examines how metaphors and other forms of symbolic language used to describe educational dilemmas shape the responses that are imaginable in addressing them. In particular, it argues for a shift from the metaphor of equity gaps to one of education debt so as to recognize more fully the political, temporal, and spatial dimensions of inequity and inequality. The article uses examples from the US and Tanzania but suggests that the metaphor of debt has relevance for countries across Oceania and in other world regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-16
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Education Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2017


  • Achievement gaps
  • Debt
  • Equity
  • Ideology
  • Metaphor
  • Race
  • Tanzania
  • United States


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