The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life



right then.

all of this seemed a good idea, in my head, it had such terrific promise. but, I’ll warn you straight away, that this post is going to be eye-rolling in its lack of anything related to being interesting, in it’s entirety.

however, the epic nature of this particular exercise is precisely why I allowed for the change of the theme (look and feel) of this blog altogether. …perhaps the other information and pretty colors will distract you from the entirely impractical nature of this post.

all that said, there is a lot going on, here. so, just dig in. but, don’t take notes. you’ll end up knowing less if you make the effort.

NOTE: as I was plotting this treatise on self-indulgence, I really did have high expectations. then Haley Anne, all of fourteen mind you, gave it a look-over and came to the conclusion that:

“its too complicated Daddy. can’t you talk about something funny. or, Usher?”


I’ll begin in the middle of all the touch points that might hope to bring sense to this carnage, as I was witness to a touch-and-go situation that was a dilemma for a bloke, recently where I’d venture to propose he had two viable options:

he could offer a correct answer that would result in appropriate and decisive action. or, he could panic. chaos, pure and simple would certainly follow (for him, and his kind). don’t be overly concerned, this has a lot to do with a tire iron, an old tire, and an unfortunate incident alongside a busy road.

…oh, and an apparent deadline.

all of this brings me to something of a point.

you don’t know what you don’t know.

this is often (perhaps too often – but who knows) attributed to Mezirow’s Concept.

which, in-or-out-of-turn, may or not having nothing to do with the concept of:


Note: in the series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, “DON’T PANIC” (always upper-case) is a phrase written on the cover of the first book. the novel explains that this was partly because the device (the book, itself) “looked insanely complicated” to operate, and partly to keep intergalactic travelers from panicking. it is said that despite its many glaring (and occasionally fatal) inaccuracies, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy itself has outsold the Encyclopedia Galactica because it is slightly cheaper, and because it has the words “Don’t Panic” in large, friendly letters on the cover.

that information might not be comforting. but, it might be good to know.

and, you probably might care to know that Arthur C. Clarke, himself, said: Adams’ use of “don’t panic” was perhaps the best advice that could be given to humanity.

I’ll add fictional, or not.

meanwhile, consider and likely ponder the following…

“He that knows not,
and knows not that he knows not
is a fool.
Shun him

He that knows not,
and knows  that he knows not
is a pupil.
Teach him.

He that knows,
and knows not that he knows
is asleep
Wake him.

He that knows,
and knows that he knows
is a teacher.
Follow him.”

– Apparently an Arabic proverb, as apparently translated by NEIGHBOUR R (1992) in his The Inner Apprentice London; Kluwer Academic Publishers. p.xvii

for good counter and corollary measure, we’ll add:

“We know what we know, we know that there are things we do not know, and we know that there are things we don’t know we don’t know” – Donald Rumsfeld (4 Sept 2002) (Woodward, 2004: 171)

it is ironic, perhaps, that the initial insight is honest-to-God Arabic.

this post is playing around with a conceit: a minimum of two senses of the term “know”. however, it is all in the form of a professional cause.

thusly, the two senses are those of:

awareness of self; and,
knowledge of the world.

however… for the purposes of this post, we’re facing four (it’s not simple of easy to discern where the four begin or end. so just roll with it. do it!) possible combinations of knowing, which are explored below:

“Knowledge” but not simply as Bloom understands it:

potentially this is the whole cognitive domain that you may find parallels with the witting and willing practice model, and also with the familiar “unconscious incompetence” to “unconscious competence” model, which relates primarily to practical skills:

here we are genuinely exploring the core of  knowledge. Laing’s almost poetic exploration of its interpersonal convolutions cited above (it goes on for another 21 pages), and the citation of the idea by Neighbour (1992) credited as an Arabic proverb demonstrate that it has a considerable provenance.

by the way… since I did not know a lot of this until I’d begun my investigation, I lifted much of this information from elsewhere, so you would know more than you did.

not knowing you don’t know

the first possibility is that of being unaware that you don’t know something. this is the “ignorance is bliss” state, enjoyed by anyone who pontificates about politics in the pubs. it’s also the position of many people on “soft” occupations (such as presidents of world-power nations, or social work) which look from the outside as if “any fool could do it”. (note: some do, evidently.) and, it is engendered by consummate professionals who make what they do look easy (such as plasterers and chefs and popular novelists, hollywood elite, and…).

in any event, many students start from this (sophomoric) position, and although the Neighbour proverb calls them “fools”, that can’t be fair; not in the least.

here’s something of a test… perhaps the first move is often to make learners aware of their ignorance. This is particularly tricky, in practice as evidenced by missionaries. unless they are a captive audience it is quite easy to frighten them off (in keeping with the Hitchhikers Guide, just have a towel and toothbrush handy). this is also rather seductive, because it is a chance to show off your own level of knowledge or competence. On the other hand, it is a crucial step in developing motivation to learn. here’s an example:

you can pose a problem which has a seemingly simple answer (political, economic, legal – or, in Neighbour’s case, medical), and then show the problems in reaching that simple solution, which stem from ignorance of the context.

knowing you don’t know

this moves us (or you)  from “knowing that you don’t know” to “knowing that you know”, and is what most learning, and hence, teaching, is all about, eh.

knowing and not knowing that you know

it’s my view, here, that the interaction between knowing and not knowing that you know is ever so much more complex, and much neglected.

it’s neither fair nor realistic to expect you, any of you to have read all the background work I’ve cited above. so, allow me to drop in a summary thought, here:

there are two kinds of knowledge (in a third sense) or practice involved here.

the first is that for which the move to “not knowing that you know” or “unconscious competence” is the highest stage of development. see the Learning Curve page. this applies to the basic skills of driving, or knitting; the kind of thing you can “do without thinking”.

the second is where people who have informally learned a great deal mistakenly put themelves in the “knowing that they don’t know” category because they have never received any academic or professional accreditation for their learning. this is the downside of our qualification-driven culture, which dismisses those whom Gramsci called “organic intellectuals” (he really did, just trust me) because they do not have the recognition of the formal educational system.

can you see it all coming together in your minds eye? Neighbour’s Arabic proverb now, finally, enjoins us to “awaken” someone in this position, which means to take them back, to an awareness of their knowledge. there is a link here with the aforementioned Mezirow’s concept of “transformative learning”, in which education leads to a re-evaluation of life so far.

believe it or not I can make an argument for my ongoing dissertations on, “being pleased, or being satisfied”. really. just go to the search bar and tap in those words and see what happens. do it. do it!

what I won’t approach, here is all the shenanigans around willing but unwitting.

because… then there’s the…

problematic expert

this is where the fourth possibility is touched on in the discussion of expertise. this is that very person who (…wait for it… …wait…) knows that she knows but does not know how she knows. or, cannot express it!

just so we’re clear, this is where you might ask about a particularly brilliant bit of practice, and you will get a banal trite answer which might have come out of an outdated textbook, and which totally fails to do justice to the complexity of what she has done. so… sometimes that answer will be exercised because she does not want to appear a “smart-arse” (“ass” if you are American (I am, mostly, but I wouldn’t wish to confuse you with references to donkeys.) sometimes, though, she might claim that it is a matter of “not being able to put it into words” or even, disconcertingly, of a “hunch”. she may even be afraid of trying to express her expertise, for fear that an inadequate exposition will somehow jeopardise fragile knowledge. once she has said it, it might become ossified. she might feel obliged to live up to her exposition and limit that insight and creativity which goes beyond words.

just relax. here is a line in the sand, for you. some things we can teach, and some we can’t. I learned that as a futbol (soccer) coach.

so, that’s the whole story. or, is it? there is not botom-line, here. clearly we have to get people to realise what they don’t know, if necessary. I feel that need, and often. but fascinating though it is, the inarticulate expertise of not knowing that you know is a dead-end from the learning and teaching point of view. the only open position, with potential for development, is that of knowing what you know.

in any event, knowledge probably requires having questions ands relevant answers to these information gaps. however, some times we just seem to know the truth – but, that’s not always the best answer under some prickly circumstances. maybe if you don’t like something that’s happening you can change the circumstances, or change the rules. But, we’re going to bump into an answer, eventually.

So… under the cover of the Hitchhikers Guide, lacking a real question, the mice (you’ll need to read the book, or remember what I’m going on about, here), decide not to go through the whole thing again and settle for the out-of-thin-air suggestion for the answer, “How many roads must a man walk down?” from Bob Dylan‘s protest song “Blowin’ in the Wind“.

watch it, here, and see if you can divine the same:

but, then again, maybe you don’t care, or don’t care to know.

I’ll keep going, later. it’s the pursuit of knowing that is the ultimate key to any answer. that’s the realm of the Heterodox.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

NOTE: some, but not nearly every conceivable references might include: process/stages_of_learning.htm Unconscious.htm

and, the following sources have been cited as original, although I have not so far been able to get hold of them to check them out:

Dubin, P (1962) ‘Human Relations in Administration’, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice-Hall
Kirkpatrick, D. L. (1971). A practical guide for supervisory training and development. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.
There’s a fascinating exploration of the whole story at:

also… ref:  B (2004) Plan of Attack New York; Simon and Schuster [Back]



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What’s All This About?

"What am I looking at?", you might wonder.

Lots of stuff.

Meanwhile, here, I discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

You'll also learn things about, well, things, like people you need to know about, and information about companies you can't find anywhere else.

So, while I harangue the public in my not so gentle way, you will discover that I am fascinated by all things arcane, curious about those whom appear religious, love music, dabble in politics, loathe the media, value education, still think I am an athlete, and might offer a recipe.

All the while, striving mightily, and daily, to remain a prudent and optimistic gentleman - and, authentic.

brian cork by John Campbell

photos by John Campbell


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