Here I am, here I can think: The significance of the place and silent dimensions of knowledge

Year: 2012

Author: Alerby, Eva, Hertting, Krister

Type of paper: Abstract refereed



A school is among other things a building with its own spatial formations. The architectonic formations can create expectations and be inspiring: they can create opportunities but also limitations of learning for teachers and students. In the classroom, teaching is often focused on knowing that, in contrast to practical situated knowledge - knowing how. However, does education always have to take place in a building? How does alternative space formation, e.g. sitting on a beach under a tree, affect the teaching and learning situation? Does possibilities to enlighten the silent dimensions of knowledge increase?

 Human beings need to be situated at a place, which also makes knowledge situated. In educational settings the place for learning is of significance. The aim of this study is to explore an educational setting, a learning environment, which take place outside the physical classroom.


In order to answer the aim we conducted theoretical and philosophical inquiries. We also did observations at teaching and learning situations in an aboriginal community in Northern Australia. The lessons took place under a tree at a beach, and were dealing with maths, using the tide and earth elements as exemplification. In addition we interviewed the teacher who taught at this place.

In this paper we are going to discuss these lessons, including the silent knowledge embraced in these situations, from a phenomenological life-world approach.


The result briefly shows that this particular learning environment at the beach, to learn in and about the place, catches silent dimensions of knowledge which would be difficult to conquer in the ordinary classroom. The teacher also emphasised that this place made both the teacher and the students more relaxed, with feelings of contents.


As human, we are not only situated as objects. The presence in a place is also followed by a certain attitude of mind. We can distance us from the place or establish us in it, we can be lost or safe, in line with the place or foreign to it. The place, in form of an objective room, is closely connected to the lived place. By learning in the place we come closer to silent dimensions of knowledge.