Two Kinds of Knowledge

Stephen Downes’ article for the Huffington Post is brilliantly encapsulated in this paragraph:

“Two different types of knowledge. Two different sets of skills. If we want people to socialize, to conform, to follow rules, we’ll focus on the repetition of the symbols and codes that constitute explicit knowledge, to have them become expert in what Wittgenstein called “language games,” the public performance of language. But if we want people to learn, then we need to focus on the subsymbolic, the concepts, skills, procedures and other bits of tacit knowledge that underlie, and give rise to, the social conventions. We cannot simply learn the words.”

This makes a lot of sense. But from a learner’s perspective – and maybe I’m drawing too much from socio-cultural perspectives here – it often seems that we need to become skilled in the former to be able to gain access to the latter.

Tags: , ,

5 Responses to “Two Kinds of Knowledge”

  1. Tweets that mention Two Kinds of Knowledge | PhD Blog (dot) Net -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by LeRoy Hill, Andy Coverdale. Andy Coverdale said: New blog post – comment on @Downes Two Kinds of Knowledge […]

  2. Stephen Downes Says:

    > it often seems that we need to become skilled in the former to be able to gain access to the latter

    Yes, quite so, especially with respect to what we might call the academic disciplines. Part of what I will talk about in future columns is a model of learning intended to provide more direct access to the latter without prolonged (and often unnecessary) mediation by the former.

  3. Andy Coverdale Says:

    Thanks for your comment Stephen. Perhaps more interdisciplinarity is to be encouraged, though in practice there seems to be considerable disparity in the effectiveness of different interdisciplinary models. I look forward to reading your future columns on this.

  4. Michael Says:

    I think the wrong questions might be being posed. When we focus on dichotomies in learning we lose the essence of experience in the wider John Dewey understanding. Dewey was of course a great Pragmatist and thinker of improving education and society. Please see my blog on one particular organisational learning dichotomy individual verse COP, where the author Elkjaer nicely posits learning as a social practice.



  5. The Deadhead | PhD Blog (dot) Net Says:

    […] a recent response to an article by Stephen Downes, I briefly touched on the use of language within the contexts of […]

Leave a Reply