Know How

I went to a VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) workshop/meeting today run by the guru (of VCAL), David Gallagher.

“The VCAL gives you practical work-related experience, as well as literacy and numeracy skills and the opportunity to build personal skills that are important for life and work.” (VCAL quote)

It was fantastic as it really helped me to see how flexible VCAL was and the importance of students getting outside the classroom doing real work. All of what he was saying I have been trying to employ with my class using the Big Picture principles.

David also talked about Know How, which is the learning gained from doing compared to Know What (content).

Here is some yabby day Know How (left)


Funny thing was that this was the basis of an email I sent to Big Picture staff last week as a reflection of how my work is going so far this year.

Here is part of my email…

I need a healthy dose of a Big Picture transfusion (or top up).

This work is hard yakka (plenty of good things happening) and even though I am working with others this year, which has been a great help, the work is still messy and difficult at times to hold firm on the BP principles:

  • One student at a time
  • Personalisation
  • Importance of interests and passion
  • Real world learning

I have been reading a bit about tacit knowledge and “know-how and now looking at it from a personal perspective.
Know-how is practical knowledge of how to get something done, as opposed to “know-what” (facts), “know-why” (science), or “know-who” (networking).
Know-how is often tacit knowledge
,which means that it is difficult to transfer to another person by means of writing it down or verbalising it.
Understood or implied without being stated.

Effective transfer of Know-How generally requires extensive personal contact and trust.
Examples of Know-How:
·     Learning a language
·     Riding a bike
Know-How is not easily shared. It involves learning and skill, but not in a way that can be written down or taught as facts.
Know-How can be learned by artisans or skilled craftsmen who learn the craft of their masters through observation, imitation, and practice.

How this relates to me personally.
I have done BP training, I have read the books and the materials, I have related to and with BP people, I went to the USA to see it in action and I still find myself struggling many times to know what to do when the pressure is on or things get messy.
It is in times like these I think about what would Viv (Big Picture mentor) do in this situation?
I think because she has been the skilled craftsman (woman), mentor, that I have observed in action the most and seek to imitate.
This is where I have received my “know-how” in relation to the BP way.
I have glimpses of know-how with John H and a couple of teachers in the States and at Yulebrook.
It is this know-how I think we as BP teachers need to draw on.
I read very widely to learn as much as I can but I find this does not stick…the head knowledge (the know what)  does not translate as well as the know-how derived from a mentor, apprenticeship like approach in the real world situation of daily face to face with students. (read John Abbott’s work).

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