Margo's World with Leadership In Educational Technology

An adventure of leading and learning technology simultaneously

Inquiry and Questioning

on October 26, 2013


What are the importance of inquiry and questioning in your discipline?


 How do/can you nurture student passion in your classroom?




The process of formalizing all knowledge to the exclusion of any tacit knowledge is self-defeating. 


Michael Polanyi


To engage students in the mundane is a constant challenge for educators.  The plethora of content we teach   does not elicit excitement on its own.  As a groan of “Not again!” rings out from children as the teacher announces it is time to practice cursive or learn their multiplication facts.  However, after the mundane is learned and practiced, using these skills become tacit knowledge and are useful throughout the child’s life. Tacit knowledge continues to grow throughout the child’s experiences while attending school.


To help with the humdrum I use online games to reinforce skills taught instead of just worksheets. Students will work in groups or teams on a website or app in order to practice a new skill. As students work in teams or take turns they share their knowledge and strategies with one another.  While reading over the chapter this week I related to the statement about when people engage in the process of asking questions tacit dimension of knowledge tends to be activated. While I observe students interacting a student will answer a question of how did you get that answer with a response of “I just knew it.” They cannot tell you the steps of how they got there. They have the knack for the skill. Students who do not have the skill have to be explicitly taught.


This leads me into a thought about explicit and tacit knowledge. (I am going a little off track here) Most students learn how to read, write, and perform mathematics skills with no problems. They just absorb the teaching and start to apply the academic skill. You ask these students the details of say parts of speech and how a sentence or paragraph go together and they will say I just know. They can’t explain gerund and participles. They just write so it sounds right when they read it. Students who do not get the wonderful benefit of absorbing the teaching have to be taught explicitly.  The rules and details of a skill are scaffold carefully when being taught in order for students to learn how to apply them. Students use the rules and steps that were taught in order to apply the academic skills. Just a thought to ponder.  What do you think?


One of my goals this year is to is to have students engaged in more discussion about their learning. The Kagan training I took does help with structuring that environment. After reading this chapter and some research, I am more committed to the task. I watched a handful of videos and read a couple of short articles about how tacit knowledge is the new skill sought be employers. This is because explicit knowledge can be easily looked up on the internet or book. Tacit knowledge is internal and someone just knows. These skills are the ones that will stand you apart from another. I have added a couple of the videos I watched.




Capturing Tacit Knowledge


Transferring tacit to explicit




value of tacit knowledge in todays work place





3 responses to “Inquiry and Questioning

  1. karenr918 says:

    You are right about kids that just “get it” versus kids that need a lot of modeling. What I am struggling with are the 2 kids in every class who don’t have the ability to do either…they lack tacit knowledge and they struggle to understand explicit instruction. These kids just keep getting F’s and being pushed through the system. I’m not giving up on them!

    I mentioned in my blog that I teach a lot from my “gut”. I didn’t realize until after I read the chapter again that is tacit knowledge. Mine comes from life experience. Our students don’t have that so we have to build life experiences for them. Hopefully positive ones!

  2. Margo, I love that infographic/quote you put at the beginning of your post! It summarizes one of the goals to inquiry learning. Also, about your thoughts on tacit and explicit learning with our students, I have wondered the same as well. On the surface, it often seems the students who struggle or have learning disabilities have difficulties with the tacit and require explicit instruction and repetition in learning the pieces to eventually put them together. I wonder about the effects of their environment as they were young on their learning pathways in the brain. Like, how children from lower-income homes come to school a million words (or something crazy like that) behind in vocabulary than children from higher-income homes. I wonder if they are not exposed to the whole, that their home environments and knowledge exposure are in “pieces”. They do not get practice attaching what they see or hear about to what they know. Maybe they became in the habit of everything not being connected, and so that is how they learn at school. I still think that teachers need to be vigilant on accessing the prior knowledge and schema of their students when guiding learning in their classrooms.

  3. hmdavis2013 says:

    First of I loved the visual at the beginning. It really emphasized what we want this week. We really want them to be asking the questions. I love it when my students ask questions that show they are really trying to understand what we are covering and not that they are just trying to get something right.

    As to your thoughts on explicit verses tactile knowledge. I found it really interesting especially when you talked about writing. I had a conversation with an English tutpr about the placement of commas. I asked her if a comma went someplace because of … and she said, “i don’t know why, but yes a comma goes there. I knew most of the rules because i was taught them, and to me they are very structured (mathematical), so I can remember them and apply them. However, she writes with how it feels. She says she puts in commas because they are needed for the flow or feel of the sentence. I think this is the same way for students with some subjects, so can just get it while others need to learn in different ways.

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