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  • Writer's pictureElliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF 8.26.22

“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder

Right now, I’m up in the Bay Area getting ready for a meeting with Charlie Plant, Gary Reeves and Kim Jones.

Kim directs the 28 Adult Education Centers in the Bay Area. We are working on HFF, B-Unbound, BPLiving and College-Unbound connections to these centers.

It’s about 6 am and I’m watching two adults in the hotel play with this LEGO-type game. They told me they were just bored. Yep! This is play. Doing something while you are doing nothing. It is probably the most productive thing they will do all day.

In the Irish Times there was a story about Diffability using LEGO’s. David Aguilar was born without an arm. So he built one from Lego — and then set a Guinness World Record. At the age of nine, a wire, a key chain, duct tape, parts of a robot and some Lego was all he needed to create his first prosthesis.

Once again, I had a great meeting with the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters. In a few weeks, we are meeting in Philadelphia with Dennis, David Bromley around connecting the 311 work to College Unbound.

This week, I started taking yet another go at reading The Tacit Dimension by Michael Polyani. I’m always more interested in what people know and how they know it than what they don’t know and in this book and his collective works Polyani looks at the tacit nature of learning.

Tacit Learning appeals and challenges me because it is learning where you know more than you can tell. And, of course this makes

it much harder to measure and understand.

Schools and so many institutions rely more on measuring what you don’t know more than what you know. This is a deficit model more so than an asset model. We need to put the ass(et) back in assessment models.

Rather than looking at what a student doesn’t know we should be looking more at what they do know. This includes tacit learning and this is what we do with the IBPLC where we measure how you are smart and not how smart you are to a test.

Outside of school, you see tacit learning discussed all the time but without people using the term. On Sunday, when I picked up the NY Times, I read an article about Wille Nelson turning 90 - Willie Nelson’s Long Encore. For lots of reasons, I’ve had an interest in Willie Nelson. One being a story written about him years ago pointing out how whether in his music or politics, he is always working at the edge but somehow resonates with the middle. Most people trying to make change start in the middle and never get to the edge – the place of their vision, let alone appeal to such a huge cross-section of people who did not start out agreeing with them. Like Willie at BPL, we aspire to be more edgy and resonate with the middle. I believe this is how changes we want happen.

So, how does this happen? How do you get people who don’t agree with you to agree with you? Willie’s Long Encore reveals the tacit nature of Willie Nelson that even he doesn’t quite understand that but there are some hints.

In one section, the trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis recalls a revealing backstage moment. “It was me, Willie, B.B. King, Ray Charles and Eric Clapton,” he says, all shooting the breeze — “and Willie said: ‘Well, gentlemen, I think I’m the only one here who actually picked cotton.’” Everyone burst into laughter. “Willie has had some profound experiences,” Marsalis says. “His music, his knowledge, comes from a long, long way.”

Stories of experience go a very long way to bring people together.

“I can be moving or I can be still,” he sings. “But still is still moving to me.” Precisely what he’s getting at is uncertain; in the song, he concedes he is straining to express elusive and ineffable ideas. “It’s hard to explain how I feel/It won’t go in words but I know that it’s real.”

Understanding the tacit nature of things that is beyond measure and is universally understood.

“He never sang a song the same way twice. I don’t think I do either.

Don’t do anything mechanistically or algorithmically. Even in repetition, strive to be creative and make it meaningful.

In a few weeks we have a gathering of all of our BPL staff at The Met. Like last week’s TGIF reference to Stanislavski – “Create your own system. Don’t depend slavishly on mine. Make up something that will work for you! Keep breaking traditions. I beg you.”

I hope we maintain our stance of working from the Edge to the Middle.

One more thing ….

We have always been a walk and talk group. Now supporting BPLiving here’s more research on walking.

Harvard Medical School researchers found that walking meetings enhanced creativity by 5.25% and engagement by 8.5%. Stanford University researchers also discovered that walking increased creative thinking by 60%. The movement itself energizes the brain, regardless of how long or where it takes place.

Be Well

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