Re: Emergent Learning LO1967
Thu, 06 Jul 1995 10:19:44 CDT

Replying to LO1925 --

I can't help but respond to the ideas in this conversation about emergent
learning as presented by Seeley's observations of his children, and the
tacit knowledge referred to in response. From where I sit, these are two
rather distinctly different things. First off, learning can only be seen
as emergent. It is not an add on, piling up of information - knowledge.
As we learn stuff, we are in a process of constructing meaning, or
reconstructing meanings previously constructed by us. This results in our
abilities to continue constructing and reconstructing meanings, similar to
Dewey's concept of ends becoming means to ends ad in finitum. Tacit
knowledge is the result of learning. It is meaning constructed from
experiencing- that is feeling it. But, the result required some
processing, some reflection over the experience and what happened related
to the experience. This process of reflection is quite often enhanced
through conversations among people.

I do not find it surprising that children will learn how to read on their
own volition. This seems particularly likely under certain circumstances,
such as being in a reading family, being around friends and others who can
and choose to read, etc. True, teachers can be that significant other who
sparks the intrigue in reading, but only if that teacher herself values
reading, and shows those around her what she obtains from reading.

> 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
> <>

John P Wilson