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Decoding the Discipines


A DtD Model for De/Coding Tacit Knowledges


Homo repetitivus, Homo artista


Practice is defined here as any operation that provides or improves the actor’s qualification for the next performance of the same operation, whether it is declared as practice or not. (Sloterdijk 2014: 4)

The philosopher Peter Sloterdijk gives us an inspired working definition of practice here that dovetails with what we often call ‘discipline’.  To attain a discipline, we must be disciplined. Becoming disciplined first means becoming “Homo repetitivus, Homo artista, the human in training.” (Sloterdijk 2014: 10)

Homo artista is often so immersed in training (repetitivus – repetition) – in the tacit knowledge that practice instils – that it can be difficult for them to stand to one side of their embodied practice and view it in ways that render it explicit to themselves (‘alterity’). Being able to find this alterity having spent a lifetime aquiring a particular practice is very difficult to say the least.

How might Homo artista gain some perspective on their own practice?

Decoding the Disciplines

One way of engaging with this challenge is via the Scholarship of Learning and Teaching (SoTL) model called ‘Decoding the Disciplines’ (DtD) developed by Joan Middendorf and David Pace at Indiana University, USA.

See: Decoding the Disciplines: A Model for Helping Students Learn Disciplinary Ways of Thinking, June 2004 New Directions for Teaching and Learning 2004(98):1 – 12



Joan Middendorf and David Pace, Decoding the Disciplines: A Model for Helping Students Learn Disciplinary Ways of Thinking June 2004 New Directions for Teaching and Learning 2004(98):1 – 12 DOI:10.1002/tl.142





For an overview of Decoding the Disciplines please visit the project’s website at (link)



New to DtD




The following videos are good introductions from Joan Middendorf and David Pace respectively:


As a basho, you will be using the the Decoding “dual-interview” technique as a way of:

a) opening out forms of tacit knowledge that you each possess

b) testing to see if your proposed Artist Toolkit  is generating ‘bottlenecks’

If there are bottlenecks, you can use Decoding to identify them and clear them.

Thinking about the specific issue of tacit knowledges and codification from a Decoding the Disciplines, the following video is useful:


Further reading relating to DtD:

  • Jarvis, M. (2007). “Articulating the tacit dimension in artmaking.” Journal of Visual Art Practice 6(3): 201-213.
  • Li, M. and F. Gao (2003). “Why Nonaka highlights tacit knowledge: a critical review.” Journal of Knowledge Management 7(4): 6-14.

Further reading related to ‘practice’:

  • Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  • Certeau, M. D., et al. (1980). “On the Oppositional Practices of Everyday Life.” Social Text(3): 3-43.
  • Certeau, M. D., (2011). The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkely, University of California Press.
  • Engeström, Y. (2007). From Communities of Practice to Mycorrhizae, in J. Hughes, N. Jewson & L. Unwin
    (Eds) Communities of Practice: critical perspectives, pp. 41-54. London: Routledge. Communities of Practice: Critical Perspectives. J. Hughes, Jewson N., L. Unwin. London, Routledge: 41-54.
  • Grootenboer, P., et al. (2017). Practice Theory and Education: Diversity and Contestation. Practice Theory Perspectives on Pedagogy and Education: Praxis, Diversity and Contestation. P. Grootenboer, C. Edwards-Groves and S. Choy. Singapore, Springer Singapore: 1-21.
  • Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice : Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge ;, Cambridge University Press.

References cited in this webpage:


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