Using inquiry as a method of learning “creates a motivation to learn and provides a set of constraints that make the learning meaningful” and produces a whole range of experiences (Learning as Inquiry, paragraph 4 and 5). By asking questions and following those questions to other questions, one can move not only through a certain subject but across subjects. Inquiry as a learning method isn’t about explicit knowledge that can be transferred and assessed, it is “instead an act of imagination” (Learning as Inquiry, paragraph 5). The use of imagination and relying on tacit knowledge allows one to go “deeper into the process of inquiry” (Learning as Inquiry, paragraph 8).
Thomas and Brown go further to describe that feeling that one gets through “prolonged inquiry on particular topics or from repeated use of skills and techniques” (Indwelling, paragraph 1). “Indwelling is a familiarity with ideas, practices, and processes that are so engrained they become second nature.” It’s how we “make connections among the tacit dimensions of things” (Indwelling, paragraph 1-3). It’s adaptive and is the “largest reservoir [a student] has of tacit knowledge” (Indwelling, paragraph 4).
- Brown, John Seely, Thomas, Douglas (2011), We Know More than We Can Say (A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change, CreateSpace)
An Informal Learning Task Challenge
Pick a subject which you would like to visualize in some form and/or a technique which you would like to improve on (analog, digital, mixed media) and make a series of multiples exploring the subject/technique. Post images of your first series in a blog post and talk about your subject/technique and the success, challenges, and/or areas for improvement. Search for resources to help you with your challenges and/or areas of improvement and use the knowledge gained from those resources and your experiences from your first series to start another series of images. Compare the second series with the first series and write about the experience in a follow-up blog post. Search again and repeat for a third series. Compare the third series with the other two and talk about what you have learned, how/if you’ve improved, and how you built upon these experiences through the exercises to gain new knowledge and build upon existing knowledge.
So for example, perhaps you would like to improve your drawing skills. Let’s use a still life as the subject, and perhaps the still life contains some glass items because you know it is tricky, and maybe charcoal as the medium. Charcoal can also be a real challenge, so you’ve got the deck stacked–drawing a still life with some glass item in it and using charcoal. Start your first series of images. You can pick the number, but at least make it a few–perhaps 3 images per series. They don’t have to be billboard-sized images, you can pick a manageable size. Okay. Go.
Scan or take photos of your first series and add them to a blog post about your experiences and include some resources for gaining more knowledge about improving your skills. These resources could be books, online web sites or videos, a chat with an artist, etc. Go out and search for things to help you improve for your next series. Absorb. Get ready for round two.
You’ve done your first series, blogged, and have done some research. Move on to the second series armed with the experiences of the first and your information gathering. Knock out another series. Scan or take photos and add them to another blog post about your experience with the second round, your information gathering, and how it compares to the first series. Repeat. Knock out another series based what you have learned from the preceding two series and any additional information gathering to create a third series. Scan or take photos of your work and add them to another blog post about your experience. In your third blog post, compare the previous two series and comment on how you’ve progressed and what you’ve learned during the challenge. Share, mix, and create more if the process was a good experience.