Organizational Learning & Knowledge Management LO23950

Date: 02/11/00

Replying to LO23946 --

On 10 Feb 00, at 21:23, Fred Nickols wrote:

> >This is all very interesting, although it's again wandering around in
> >the desert looking to the dessert in all the wrong places.
> So you say, Robert; however, I don't agree with you.

That's ok. You and I often disagree, but you always have something well
thought out to offer. What I'm asking is that this topic could easily be
more grounded with specific implications for practice, rather than beating
the definitions into the ground. It's not that the definitions are
unimportant, but like a desert, it gets pretty dry.

> True, using a photo is not the same as articulating features but I never
> said it was. However, if we are talking about the ability to develop
> tacit knowledge in others, and if (as I assume) we are unable to
> articulate it in ways that this development occurs, then I fail to see how
> using photos is cheating (except in the sense that it is not relying on
> words).

I was trying to help you out ...grin.... If I teach you to recognize a
face by using a picture, I haven't articulated anything, so that supports
your position. To disprove your position I would have to articulate this
unarticulable knowledge in a way that someone can "learn" it. The proof
would be in the ability of the person to recognize.

Showing a picture of me wouldn't need to involve any articulation on my
part, which is why it would be "cheating".

> >However I believe if you allowed me enough resources and research
> >capabilities, I could teach you or anyone how to recognize almost
> >anyone (at least from the same cultural group). It clearly CAN be
> >done. So either recognizing faces isn't an example of tacit, or tacit can
> >be articulated and taught. All that would remain would be to carry out
> >the research, which I suspect has already been done.
> Robert: You are noted for taking fine points so bear with me while I
> attempt something similar. In the paragraph above, the word "So" is used
> as a synonym for "therefore." In other words, your opening statement, one
> of belief, is followed by a conclusion that hinges on the acceptance of
> the belief. Clearly, you accept the belief; after all, it is yours. I
> don't. Therefore, for me, your conclusion does not follow. It is for you
> a quite correct conclusion. It is for me a non sequitur.

That's fair. Let me restate. It wouldn't surprise me if I got this wrong.

1) Using Polayni's definition, tacit knowledge cannot be articulated
or "transfered".
2) You used the example of recognizing a face as tacit.
3) If I can articulate and teach how to recognize a face, then either
we need to throw out Polayni's definition, or we need to call face
recognition implicit or explicit knowledge.
4) I claim it is possible to make the tacit accessible in some areas,
in fact most areas.
5) I disagree with the definition.

> >Quite
> >honestly, if I CAN do take someone and teach something you call
> >tacit, so they can carry out the task, demonstrating they have
> >learned, then that's all it takes to disprove the notion that tacit
> >knowledge is inexplicable. If I explicate, someone understands,
> >and performs well at the task that proves understanding in action,
> >what else is important?
> Well, for starters, what was explicated? Next, how did that explicated
> knowledge get transformed into a capacity for action on the part of the
> learner? Is there more to performing the task than the articulated
> description of it? If so, what is that something else? If not, have we
> finally discovered an instance in which the map is indeed the territory?

I'm not sure it matters.

> >The nifty part is that the people I succeeded in teaching this too
> >could then teach others to do it. Tacit knowledge has to do with
> >HOW something is learned and has little to do with the CONTENT
> >of the knowledge.
> That sounds to me like one of your favorite subjects: cueing.

It might be but that hadn't occurred to me. My "sense" of the light is
indeed something I can't explain. I just "feel" it. But I believe that
while this is tacit in the sense of it being APPARENTLY impossible to
access, I believe I could with the right help to articulate it.

> >But again, we would need to discuss psychology, not philosophy
> >tounderstand this.
> Perhaps that's the problem, Robert. After all, Polanyi was a chemist
> turned philosopher, not a psychologist. --

Definitely. That IS the problem. I don't accept Polanyi as an expert on
learning. On many other things, yes. Not on learning and the research on
learning or cognition.

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