balancing, tacit knowledge and teamwork : "we can know more than we can tell"

It began with Carter laying a big rock and some sticks on one end of the see-saw, but when he climbed on the other end, he went right down to the ground as usual. As he looked for more sticks to put on the pile, other boys-Tucker, Tavish, Oliver and Dyson came to help. Reed added his coat to the pile. They borrowed everything I had in my pockets and added that. Every couple of minutes someone would climb on the side opposite the growing pile of sticks, rocks, wood and car keys to see if the pile was heavy enough to hold them into the air. Eventually, when the pile was heavy enough, the boys took turns testing the balance, though that was not a word they used. Tavish was the one who discovered that if you lay and scooted way back you could move the (by now very heavy) pile up a bit. He also tried standing and bouncing his legs- another way to lift the heavy end of the see-saw.

I love these examples of children spontaneously testing theories together. Tacit knowledge is defined as knowledge that is difficult to share in a written or verbal form. The famous quote by Michael Polanyi, (who coined the phrase) is "we can know more than we can tell". Here is the understanding of weight and balance embedded in the physical actions of the children. These boys were feeling the physics concepts they were exploring with their bodies. This is truly learning through play.


  1. Wow. What a gorgeous example - of children "knowing more than we can tell," of children as natural-born scientists, (testing their theories and hypotheses), and of children building understanding together in a social constructivist manner. Thanks, Anna, for paying such close attention at recess!


Post a Comment

Please do comment!

Popular posts from this blog

Magical Thinking and Alternative Facts

Umbrella Project 2017

The difference between centers and provocations