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Greg McVerry

Responses on XMCA listserv on question of Implicit and Explicit Knowledge

In reply to My convulted stream Hi Greg, This question and distinction originally interested me when I was trying to work out what intuition is. "Implicit" hides

6 min read

In reply to My convulted stream

Hi Greg,

This question and distinction originally interested me when I was trying to work out what intuition is. "Implicit" hides a variety of meanings and sense, whereas explicit is narrower in range and can be connoted with sign, and hence this aspect can be linked with Vygotsky.  To the extent that I have studied Peirce, his object and interpretant seem to have agreement too.

From wikipedia: "Tolman also promoted the concept known as latent learning first coined by Blodgett (1929)"
Polanyi (1958) referred to tacit knowledge quite extensively.  There were a number of other authors that I read contemporary with Polanyi.

P. I. Zinchenko's (1939) study on voluntary and involuntary learning gives experimental accounts of these two different methods of learning.


On the hunt

Keith Johnson, one of the professors on my MA at University of Essex,used the distinction between implicit and explicit on the one hand, and the J.R. Anderson model of DECPRO, PRODEC on the other. He didn't say anything about conditional knowledge, but from Anderson I gather it's something to do with the passive reception/active production distinction (that we Halllidayans reject). 
I never heard him use both of them together, in a matrix, so that there was implicit and explicit declarative knowledge, implicit and explicit procedural knowledge, and implicit and explicit conditional knowledge. But Keith was very GRAMMATICAL. It seems to me that if you apply it to PHONOLOGY, there isn't any reason we can't talk about implicit and explicit declarative knowledge (knowing THAT a sound is a /d/ and not a /t/ implicitly and being able to express that idea in phonological terms) and it is also possible to talk about implicit and explicit procedural knowledge (knowing HOW to distinguish them without thinking about it, and knowing HOW they are distinguished by the movements of the articulators). I don't see any reason in principle why you couldn't do the same thing with conditional knowledge either, although I'm not really sure that all these distinctions are relevant to teaching. 
All of this, and a lot more, in his 19i96 book Skill Learning and Language Teaching (Blackwell).
David KelloggSangmyung University

New Article: Han Hee Jeung & David Kellogg (2019): A story without SELF: Vygotsky’s
pedology, Bruner’s constructivism and Halliday’s construalism in understanding narratives byKorean children, Language and Education, DOI: 10.1080/09500782.2019.1582663To link to this article:
Some e-prints available at:
All of this is in his 1996 book Skill Learning and Language Teaching (Blackwell). Greg,
I'm not sure about implicit *knowledge*, but the earliest studies on implicit *learning* were conducted by Arthur Reber in the 1960s. I had the good fortune of being a graduate student at CUNY Graduate Center in Developmental Psychology in the 1980s when Arthur was there as a visiting scholar. He was studying implicit learning of *grammar* by adults and children. What struck me about the phenomenon (then and now) is that subjects in experiments are unaware that they are engaged in implicit learning - and when asked to think about the task they are performing while they are learning to infer patterns implicitly, their performance deteriorates significantly. It would seem that implicit and explicit learning are activities that conflict with each other.

This info may not be at all relevant to your question, but I thought I should mention it.
Cheers,PeterI think you'd need to qualify that statement, Peter, for it to be correct.
The use of the phrase "involuntary" in P. I. Zinchenko's work pertains to "without volition" rather than "against one's volition".

mike cole

Jun 14, 2019, 1:05 PM (3 days ago)

The same distinction can be found usefully in the work of Giyoo Hatano which you might find useful,Greg. A distinction is found in Wright's book on Envisioning Real Utopias between ideologyand culture.
Odd query:  Earth worms have an enormous effect on their environments and hence ours. Earth worms could not do this if they did not have "wiggle room." Would you attribute thetunnels and soil transformation of earth worms to them "having" agency? 

Also, I believe Palermo and Weiner made this distinction in the late 70s.  I would check their classic textbook on cognitive psychology (if it’s still around.)  And, Polanyi addressed these issues too.  Best, ag


Artin Goncu, Ph.D

Professor, Emeritus

University of Illinois at Chicago

Can the earthworms consider the consequences of wiggiling this way or that and predicting the consequences of these choices or do they follow an almost programmatic biological following. If so is this agency and still learning in emodoed ways? 
I do keep a worm box those worms are more than cared for but not free? Are they missing agency?
----------I think I will disagree. Bits of explicit learning embedded into implicit events when you have explicit goals make a difference.
Meaning in the two spaces I am studying and people engage in explicit learning all the time. They need to make a gif or learn CSS. 
Yet other times folks muck about trying new things.
In each of these events people may have an overarching goal... As I type I am drawn to Dewey and Art and Experience. 
I do find embedding skills in a passion whrn I teach web development is key. Is Passion implicit learning or the most explicit imaginable?

Yes, when there is even flow, you feel entirely free, its our way or the highway. :-)And yes to dewey!


Kind of why I wish I did not have to name things. Just say they "learn" then we don't cut knowledge off to the world.
I am going to try to grab thos thread and concurrent threads on Twitter and try to mix them together 
Thank you to all, All the books in thread requested through my library. 


Vygotsky showed in his work on child development (Problem of Age, for example) that the will is not born free all at once, and is in fact never free absolutely. Hegel gives us an extended discourse on free will in The Philosophy of Right, beginning with the transformation of the 'natural will' into the 'free will' with the creatures who use culture to control their own activity. But is takes social transformation to take the will beyond a Spinozan/Stoic resignation.

Nature-given drives and culture-given norms do not cancel freedom of will absolutely, but I think it makes no sense to talk about "agency" or freedom of the will other than actions passing through consciousness, with or without conscious awareness. But of course, if you are an Althusserian or Foucauldian, "agency" is taken in the sense of being the unwitting agent transmitting a disease, under which meaning, the earthworm has as much agency as Napoleon.


Greg McVerry

The Epistemology of Hegel: An Underlying Approach to Learning

In the Associationist epistemology, knowledge is the result of experience, we perceive and understand the world through individual experience of it.

Instead Kant argued that our experience does not directly lead to knowledge, but rather the mind interprets the experience through structures that the mind imposes (such as cause and effect, real or hypothetical), and thus the mind takes the input from experiences and constructsan understanding of it [3].

Hegel added two key components to the Kantian idea of construction of knowledge: The first, laid out in his 1807 Phänomenologie des Geistes(usually translated as Phenomenology of the Mind [5] or of the Spirit [6], neither of which precisely captures the meaning of Geist) is that of the Volksgeist (roughly the spirit of a people) which we can largely interpret as what we mean today by ‘culture’. We come to our knowledge by means of the culture in which we find ourselves.

The second is the dialectic method for arriving at truth. The classic formulation of this is Fichte’s: Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis [7] (although Hegel himself used the formulation abstract negative concrete).

Thus we have the three basic components of the Hegelian epistemology: a) that knowledge is constructed by the mind rather than simply copied from the world, b) that this knowledge construction takes place within a cultural context that determines (to some extent) the form of the knowledge, and c) that the mode for this construction takes the form of a dialog (i.e. it is dialectic)

Freire argued strongly against an Associationist epistemology and its instantiation in the classroom, which he termed the banking model of instruction. Instead he argued that pedagogy needed to be responsive to the students’ need to a) construct rather than receive knowledge, b) within the framework of their own culture and language, c) through the use of respectful dialogue.

Vygotsky's  most important and influential insight was that of mediation between the learner and the object of the learning: that what distinguishes human from animal learning was the use of concrete but more importantly, psychological tools

In AST, a learning activity is composed of three central components: the subject (or learner), the object (produced by the learning activity), and the community (typically the class, including the instructor). Each pair of these components is related through a culturally specific set of mediators

Apprenticeship [21]. Collins and Kapur outline the four components of their model of Constructivist pedagogy: identification of the kinds of knowledge in the tasks to be taught, determination of the sequencing of those tasks, the set of instructional methods, with emphasis on dialog and active construction of knowledge, and finally, the cultural context (which they call the ‘sociology’) [22]


Greg McVerry

Exploring the History of Reading Research in 30 minutes

bunch of religions wanted some folks to read and wouldn't let others. Books mad expensive. Literacy always been about power and reading a tool to

2 min read

bunch of religions wanted some folks to read and wouldn't let others. Books mad expensive. Literacy always been about power and reading a tool to both take and give.

then a bunch of psychologist looked into reading brought in garbage with us today from Kantian humanism, positivism, and other crap that gets education in the way of learning

Then the computer ushered in the era of information processing and people thought the brain was like a file system and you had to move stuff from short term memory to long term memory.

Skills and strategy instruction formulated.

through the 1970's-1990's reading as skill and strategies was a big thing.  Vygotsky and Piaget start to have their mark.

Metacognition becomes a thing in 19770-1978

Palisncar and Brown come with reciprocal teaching which really ushers in strategy instruction. All the studies have a ceiling effect and a lack of transfer. Shocking, when you have students practice how to summarize a text they are really good at summarizing THAT text. Give them a book on astrophysics...not so much...summarizing as strategy use did not exist.

The reading wars were a thing with bunch of folks fighting over how to teach reading between phonics and whole language. It was (is) stupid. Toxic masculinity seeping into higher ed. Shocking.

Then around 1994-1995 multicultural education became a thing for a hot minute (this was before cultural proactive pedagogy, responsive teaching, restorative justice....people were way more open with their racism then. 

Dr. Au started doing amazing work in anthropology and reading. Psychology began to look as activity theory. Post modern literary and post structural theories took root.

Folks sometimes call these socio-cultural views of learning. I stick with being human.

So from 1994-1999 everyone had to read a book with a black kid in it. Waaay important but unrelated to what Dr. Au wanted us to take away about local pracies

We started talking learner agency, inquiry and out of school literacies? What is the difference between literacy and literacies? Dunno but folks wrote books on it, naming things pays bills.

Then the web came and changed everything and nothing.

Greg McVerry

@suupermichael We should also work to realize the layers of meaning Vygotsky has included in zone of proximal development that gets stripped int he Edubabble "gradual release of responsibility" or the folk talk of "I do, we do, you do"

Greg McVerry

Tracing Pathways of Perspective and Broken Promises #LRA18

Perspective. Too often it's just the 250 words you can allot before describing yoru study, or worse the views of someone paying your tuition bills. Yet

5 min read

Perspective. Too often it's just the 250 words you can allot before describing yoru study, or worse the views of someone paying your tuition bills.

Yet when we think of design and building off of theory much of thw world is trying to replicate what we once meant by having a theoretical perspective drive your design.

I have tried to reclaim this aspect of my research over the past year.

Teacher Education Research Study Group

I had originally planned on working with the TERSG study group on work on culturally proactive pedagogy. Joy Meyers, Carin Appleget, Courtney Hokulaniokekai Shimek, Breanya Hogue. Awesome people I had let down.

Last year at LRA it was my first time trying not running a study group in five years. It felt liberating. Actaully it was my first year not being a section program chair or e-editor in in three years.

I looked forward to trying something new. The Teacher Education Research Study Group soudned great.I walked in not knowing a thing and I loved their design. Each year they nrainstorm a study , compelte study and present the next year. Rinse, wash, repeat. Brilliant.

I also thought trying to move my research into teacher ed would help me survive life at a comprehensive university. A 4-4 load, with three credits release for being graduate coordinator, and trying to organize an research agenda...I thought basing my research in my day to day of teacher prep  would help me breath.

The pressures on faculty are immense. We handle 30 applicants a semester. Advise 30-40 students a semseter. Hit enrollment targets, develop a plan and set targets for minority teacher recruitment. Collect data for CAEP, figure out the EdTPA roll-out, interview perspective students, sit on graduate council....who am I telling you know the story...

I loved the work we did with Teacher Education Research Study Group. We designed a series of lessons around culturally proactive pedagogy in our methods classes. Worked on iterating on design, reflecting on our own bias. Solid good work the it's meant to be.

I did some of my best teaching that semester. I wanted to model proactive. As an online class discovered new ways to track patterns that provided wonderful insight. Maybe even get a metholdogy paper out of this as well! After the semester I went to pick up the IRB forms dropped off to the office.

One student completed the form.

I had nothing. All the work, for naught. Which then makes you feel guilty for trying to make professional gains doing something that is so fundementally right.

I tried to stick with the group. I had made new friends. Slowly the pressures of the campus and a loss of perspective and I faded away. Letting my team down.

The research never truly drove me. I loved the search for new methods for data analysis of online classes but diversity in children's literature just wasn't my passion. Which also leads to guilt. Here I want to talk tech and students face a world of hate and opression.

I needed a new plan.

Perspective Possibilities

At my plan crumbled I was also making no secret that I think most of the education research, publication, and assessment industry is a sham at worse and a waste of resources as best.

I have always tried to advocate for greater open scholarship. Pushed hard. Got bruised harder and made no gains.

It's called power for a reason.

So I started searching and playing in open spaces. I have always fooled with tech. Never really a coder or developer, a tinkerer.Part of the reason I studied at the New Literacies Research Lab. I believe the way we read, write, and participate has fundementaly shifted and we as educators faield to respond.

Given my affinity for hanging online and my desire for open scholarship I was drawn to the IndieWeb community. In fact my first IndieWeb post came at LRA when I argued against the rights  we sign away to publishers.

So I chose to switch gears and continue the work I began last year when I presented a study on and Rhizomatic Learning.

Philosophies of Your Own Domain

Something different happens in  spaces people own online. The agentive writing, the continuos exchange of knowledge, and the struggle to understand all unfold as people fold their identities.

I began by trying to draw on Vygotsky's idea of perezhivaniya.After designing a research project around this philsophy I shared the work with the Extrended Mind Culture and Activity ListServ.

They pointed me towards Dewey. I missed the the "essence" that often will not translate to English. I have always been drwn to Dewey. Especially after long conversations with Chip Bruce and Rick Beach. So I tweaked my design around theories of democracy and education.

I ended up here in the paper:

Yet this makes me think about perspectives and international literacy research. Is Dewey, his pragmatism, as American as Apple Pie and frought with same cultural bias? Can you build toward an ideal without a focus on the critical?

These will be thoughts I will continue to explore. Well it's after midnight. Missing everyone at but Skip James been keeping me company. Enough rambling. Gonna call it a night. Enjoy vital sessions.


Greg McVerry

Based on my records the first MOOC I facilitated was a Vygotsky study group that used @zotero browser plugin. Class failed due to lack of expertise but it was fun.

Greg McVerry

The Problem with List Servs and #ConnectedLearning

List servs work, and work well. That's there major drawback. It is hard to move academics off of a tool that has functioned long before

4 min read

List servs work, and work well. That's there major drawback. It is hard to move academics off of a tool that has functioned long before the Web. 

 Yes it comes with the baggage of bad email practices we suffer through at work: Unecessary reply-alls, threads being hijacked, threads getting too long and complex, people replying to older threads with totally new topics, and different formatting.

This is all before we consider the complexity of different levels of learners steeped within varying discourses and even languages.

Even with these major drawbacks learning gets done.

List servs work because distribution discourse works better than destination discourse.

Instead of trying to get people to come to your site or join your network the content just comes to you. You decide to reply. As Gina Tripani notes email is truly one of the original federated systems.

I want to help move folks off of list servs and on to other more open distribution channels. While it is hard to move people off of tools that work I would like to see groups try new methods.


As e-editor of the Literacy Research Association we are trying to encourage people to publsih their own content and push through our new websites. Mainly by using the forums. These can be set up just like list servs, your inbox can be flooded as much as you want. So could your RSS feed.


The Extended Mind Culture and Activity theory was a MOOC long before that was even a thing. There have been people arguing and seeking consensus over  Russian and German translations of words for over a decade. It is the home of Open scholarship on Cultural Historical Activity Theory, Vygotsky, Hegel, Marx and a wonderful group of scholars.

It is ripe for a tool like Discourse or Known. 

I fall in and out of XMCA. It is a list serv that works too well. So I have to hide it in my email client if inbox zero were ever to be reached. I recently bundled XMCA in Google's new inbox tool which means I can see the messages and quickly dismiss them.

Its when I need to find an idea again that XMCA gets difficult.

It also reads like a Novel. The brilliant thought, often outside of my wheelhouse, makes casual reading impossible. The problem of course is it is email. Searching through email for threads of logic gets hard quick.


I have been playing a bit in discourse with and with Mozilla's webmaker (now Mozilla Learning...I think). At first I was hesitant. Not a fan of stackable forums. I like threaded discussions. Showing my age here.

But the social, the tagging, and the categories make it ideal for a complex learning space like XMCA. This would be a little more of a closed off space but would resemble the list serv without all of the baggage (until we discover the new luggage that folks travel with in new spaces).

I threw together a quick example (using recent emails as an example) on my own site (not sure if log-in required).

XMCA is already installed on a university server. Discourse would be no different. Except better.


I am just starting to play with Known but I could easily see it be used for distributed discourse. You can quickly push it out to everywhere.

If Wordpress is chess, than Known is Othello. Both allow for endless learning but one can begin playing Othello almsot immediatley.

Basically as community of academics, in places like XMCA and Listserv, we should encourage people to publish on their own sites and syndicate everything to a common hub or space.

Known would be just one example. This can be done with any blogging plaform. The goal should be to own you own content in a federated web.


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