Re: Emergent Learning LO1925

Bernard Girard (
Tue, 4 Jul 1995 09:02:01 +0000

Replying to LO1921 --

Doug Seeley writes about his children : "They were not taught explicitly
how to read, and how to do math, yet at some moment they spontaneously
started doing these things, much in the same manner in which (=8A) they
rapidly began speaking French once they made up their minds to do it."
(Doug is an Australian living in Geneva).

We all know that children learn how to talk a foreign langage without
explicit education (which does not mean "no education"), but I am very
surprised to hear one can learn how to read without explicit tuition.
Reading is a difficult task. It's not something you do in a community (you
have to be two to talk it helps learning a langage without lessons), but
something you do by yourself. And the motivation to read is usually low :
children don't need to read to live and enjoy themselves (whereas they
need to talk to play with friends). One of the firt tasks of a teacher is
to give children the desire to read, to show them that one can find
treasures in books=8A

Behinf this discussion, I see another on acquisition of tacit knowledge
which should be of great interest on this list.

About tacit knowledge, here is an extract of a post by Dick Schmidt on
Polanyi (Micha=EBl, not his brother Karl) listserv : "Polanyi was part of
a research team in Manchester trying to find the scientific basis for the
evaluation of wool. Part of the value comes from the lanolin, which can
be extracted from the fleeces when they are processed and sold as a
by-product. The question is thus, in part, how to measure the content and
quality of the lanolin in a group of fleeces that are about to be
auctioned off, without doing the processing, and taking into account the
quality of the wool itself. The research team puzzled about this, and
then someone thought to ask one of the experts, a man who had regularly
and profitably bid on fleeces over many decades, "How do you judge the
value of the lanolin?" The ancient replied, showing how you plunge both
hands deeply into the fleeces and roll the fibers between your finger as
if you were judging the fabric of a suit, "Why, you just feel it."

We all met these tacit knowledges in our private life (swimming, cycling)
and in professionnal life (the knowledge of a godd salesman is mostly
tacit). How do we learn these tacit knowledges? can this education be
improved? Can this knowledge be analysed? stored in a database?

Bernard Girard