Re: Emergent Learning LO2019
Sun, 09 Jul 95 11:39:14

Replying to LO1986 --

David Birren says, speaking of the conversion of tacit to explicit

"I would agree that the conversion can and does take place. However, it
becomes severely limited by language. What I know of the Buddhist
tradition tells me that direct experience cannot be communicated; what is
communicated is a distillation of the experience, a filtering, rather than
its full richness. So I'd say Mike is correct (using my own words) that
the true essence of what we experience cannot be conveyed to another
person. But I would also say that Choo is correct that knowledge can be
conveyed. The resolution of this paradox is in the difference between
profound (implicit) understanding and "objective" knowledge (perhaps
better referred to as information)."

I'm not so sure that what David is speaking of here is the same as the
conversation between Mike McMaster and Chun Wei Choo which provoked it.
In my opinion, what David is discussing here is the phenomenon of learning
in the sense that something has not been learned until it has been
experienced or internalized. For me, this relates heavily to an earlier
thread on practice, in which I declared that once the thing is truly known
practice becomes irrelevant.

It seems to me that tacit knowledge is transmitted through a variety of
media, and language is only one of them (said he, rubbing the spot on his
head where the master has just hit him with a stick!). Rituals, gesture
in all its forms, especially in art, even design can be modes of transfer
of tacit knowledge. Apprenticeship (or acolyte in the spiritual realm)
has a long historical tradition in virtually every culture. We have tried
(mostly unsuccessfully) to translate this into "mentorship" in the
present-day corporate world. In any case, whether it's hearing the story
told over and over again (a common childhood experience) or hearing the
story told in a multitude of different versions and styles ("culture") or
*doing* the thing over and over again (doing the scales in every key
signature), the common thread is "practice until you get it".

Mike Munn turned me on to an exercise in which understanding this - and
understanding "paradigm shift" as well - is easily demonstrated and
experienced. He distributes one of those computer-generated 3-D pics
which you have to look at cross-eyed to "see" the 3D image. Some people
do, and some people don't. That's it! everybody gets the point, which is:
Some people "get it" and some people don't. You can learn how to get it,
and you can coach somebody in that learning, and you can practice until
you do, but nobody can show you the 3D image - you've got to "get it".

Jack Hirschfeld                   Don't you know, you fool, you never can win?