Thank you John Seely Brown for once again guiding me in an inspirational direction. I just read “A new Culture of Learning” by Doug Thomas and John Seely Brown, which is a must-read for anyone thinking about future learning…or maybe just anyone.

They discuss the construct of indwelling, which lead me to more reading about studies of Polanyi’s form of tacit knowledge and how it can be used to help build explicit knowledge that can be measured.

This work has finally given my words to express what I feel is most important about game-based learning. By exploring in a game environment that mirrors laws of nature, or authentically represents any other content that we want people to learn, players can build tacit knowledge through activity that they find compelling.

For example, if a player has to grapple with balancing forces in order to move an object to a goal they begin to “get a sense” for how forces behave. If those behaviors can become visual and reactive to players’ activity then we have a powerful learning environment. What if we add haptic and other sensory interfaces? What if we can create experiences that engage players in experience the science that we eventually want them to formalize in school-based learning?

I was at the Finnish Embassy last week meeting with US and Finnish researchers who are all looking at STEM learning from different perspectives. The Finnish educators are leading the way in terms of international STEM test scores, but also (and not coincidentally, I think) they are focusing on how to foster creativity and innovation. They take a very affective lens to look at STEM learning—what is the learner’s contextualized experience? How is the learning fitting into their lives, their identity, and their individual perspectives on the world? I would call this a very Vygotskian perspective, treating learning as mediate by the learners’ environment and experiences within that environment. I am so excited to work more with the Finnish to start using some of these methods in our own work.

One of the most useful quotes I’ve read in a while:

“Polanyi sees the tacit and explicit knowing interacting to create all personal knowledge. He believes that all personal knowledge originates in the tacit dimension and moves to the explicit dimension via the indwelling process. The indwelling process finds noticeable subsidiary knowledge and identifies it. Once identified and in focus, the knowledge and its associated bodily activity then move to the explicit dimension”

Off to read more to unpack that….


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